• Call us now: 0300 303 0444
  • Call us now: 0300 303 0444

You are here

New resources available for Stepping up to Public Health

New resources available for Stepping up to Public Health

Find out how the 'Stepping up to Public Health' model can help you.

- Learn how to make the provision of public health personalised to the woman and her family.
- Free up your time to focus on requested public health issues.
- Empower mothers to take control of their own knowledge.
- Redefine the role of midwives and maternity support workers in public health.

The project

MIDWIFERY 2020 outlined several key messages around the public health role of the midwife. Their ‘unique contribution to public health is that they work with women throughout pregnancy, birth and into the first weeks of family life’, hence, they have a vital role to play in ‘improving health and social wellbeing for all women’ (Chief Nursing Officers of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, 2010: 26). In many instances, midwives’ input and involvement in meeting the public health agenda is not acknowledged. Five high-level priorities were outlined by Public Health England (PHE) in 2013, none of which referred to the midwife: ‘Supporting families to give children and young people the best start in life, through working with health visiting and school nursing, family nurse partnerships and the troubled families programme’ (PHE, 2013: 3). Midwives are normally the lead professionals at the start of life and thus should be acknowledged as playing a crucial role in ensuring that women and their families benefit from essential public health messages from the outset. However, the document does advocate for the development of a new public health model for midwives. In response and in recognition of Action Area 1 of the NHS England Compassion in practice: implementation plans that advocate developing a new heath role for midwives, the RCM submitted a proposal to the Department of Health (DH) in England to undertake a study exploring midwives’ and MSWs’ knowledge of, and involvement in, the public health agenda. 

As a first step, the RCM commissioned Cardiff University to undertake the initial qualitative phase of the Department of Health funded study. Midwives, MSWs and students were recruited through the RCM Facebook page and the membership database.

Data were gathered via eight closed online focus groups and themed into the following categories:

  1. Scope of midwives’ public health role
  2. Training and support for public health role
  3. Barriers and facilitators
  4. Specific client groups
  5. The role of the specialist referral services.

It wasn’t possible to recruit service users (SUs) to this study and as this was considered essential to ensure credibility and equity to the project, the RCM subsequently undertook a closed Facebook forum for service users. A total of 14 service users participated in the discussion, representing different trusts across England, adding to the richness of the data already collated.

The group considered methods for interpretation and development of a model. Findings from both studies informed the development of the online audit/questionnaire, which was rolled out to RCM members. Although the focus was on members across England, the views of others, including health visitors, across all four countries were taken into consideration. Overall 2,242 responses were received, which yielded a large quantity of additional significant data.

Seven themes were generated

  1. Time constraints
  2. Timing – optimum time for delivery of information to women and their families
  3. Communication – relaying sensitive information and asking difficult questions
  4. Continuity of carer – ensuring consistent, individualised care 
  5. Education – training needs for midwives, MSWs and students 
  6. Method of conveying information
  7. Importance of specialist services.

Following analysis and theming of the qualitative and quantitative data, a think tank involving key stakeholders was convened to validate the findings.

The model 

The group considered methods for interpretation and development of a model. Findings from all studies and events were used to create a robust and useable model for maternity services in England, titled ‘Stepping up to public health’. 

Two models have been generated – one for women and families, and the other for midwives and MSWs. They are closely aligned to demonstrate how practitioners can work together to achieve the recommendations and ensure a seamless journey for women and families. 

Click to download a PDF of the Women and Families - Stepping up to Public Health model 




Click to download a PDF of the Midwife and MSWs - Stepping up to Public Health modelStepping Up to Health - Midwife and MSWs model





Elizabeth Gomez, Public Health Advisor for the RCM explains the model in detail

Discover the resources available

The RCM have produced some innovative resources, for midwives and also for mothers. Click the buttons below to access the resources.

Quick links to resources

Public Health repository for maternity staff. Online information and resources for maternity staff. Access now>

Public Health repository for women.  Online information and support for women and their families. Access now>

Pregnancy and birth information menu. A list of topics to help women understand their pregnancy and plan their care. Download now>

For further information

For more information around this, please contact publichealth@rcm.org.uk