National award for Kent midwife for improving care for pregnant women with learning disabilities

on 22 May 2023 RCM Midwifery Midwives Awards RCM Annual Midwifery Awards Student midwives Expectant Mothers

A Medway midwife has scooped a national award for improving maternity care for women with learning disabilities.

Sarah-Jayne Ambler - Clinical Research Manager in Midwifery at Medway Foundation Trust - received the Excellence in Midwifery for Research award sponsored by Pregnacare by Vitabiotics at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) annual awards in London on 19 May.

Sarah-Jayne and her colleagues undertook a trial project to improve the experiences and outcomes for women with learning disabilities using Medway’s maternity services. The trial showed that not only was more research needed to further improve care, but also brought about immediate and positive changes in care for the women. These included steps to better identification of women with learning disabilities early in their pregnancy, and improved staff training.

RCM Chief Executive, Gill Walton said: “This shows how a determined, committed, and passionate midwife can improve care. It also shows just how important research is to pushing care forward, and that it is tailored to the needs of all women. Sarah-Jayne’s project is a shining example of how good research can translate directly into better frontline of care and more knowledgeable and skilled staff. A great project, a great outcome, and a beacon that can be emulated in other trusts. It is such an honour to give Sarah-Jayne this award.” 

The team - led by Sarah-Jayne - is now setting out on a bigger research project to find out about the maternity experiences of women with learning disabilities. Right from the off the project involved women with learning disabilities and experience of maternity care, ensuring their voices were heard, and so that services could be designed to support them better.

Sarah-Jayne said: “I am so proud of the work that has led to this award and all of the efforts the trust’s Research Team is putting in to ultimately improving experiences and outcomes for pregnant people with learning disabilities. This has been a fantastic opportunity to share the small changes that we are making which could make a real difference to pregnant people and can ultimately be applied anywhere. More broadly, this is a prime example of the more subtle positive impacts of being a research active maternity unit and how it improves outcomes for everyone, not just those who take part in research.”

Once the research project is complete, Sarah-Jayne and the team will use the findings to refine and continue improving services for women with learning disabilities.

Susanne Bisinotto, for Pregnacare vitamins said, “Sarah-Jayne is being recognised for Excellence in Midwifery Research for her important, pioneering work with immediate impact in identifying experience and care improvements in maternity care. And also that Sarah-Jayne and her team will continue to identify further improvement opportunities for women with learning disabilities with more research. Her commitment and compassion in this research field is exemplary.”


To contact the RCM Media Office call 020 7312 3456, or email [email protected].

Notes to Editor 

For more information on the RCM awards and the full list of winners visit RCM Awards 2023 | Royal College of Midwives Awards UK.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team.  We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance, and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences, and online resources. For more information visit the RCM | A professional organisation and trade union dedicated to serving the whole midwifery team.