Wales Midwifery Leadership and Development Programme

By Helen Rogers, Director of RCM Wales on 14 May 2021 IDM - International Day of the Midwife Leadership Wales RCM Wales NHS Wales

As with so many other initiatives, the The Wales Midwifery Leadership and Development Programme went virtual in 2020. The steering group that runs it was anxious that it would not be successful, and that people might not be able to sign up to it – we were after all in the middle of a pandemic and maternity services were especially challenged. We were also worried that by going virtual, the personal interaction and camaraderie, which is a key feature of the experience would be lost.  However, this was not the case. The programme was over-subscribed, the delegates were keen and enthusiastic from the start and everyone worked together to make it a success.   

So as part of our International Day of the Midwife (IDM) celebrations this year we decided to use our fourth day together to celebrate the achievements of our 20/21 cohort - and what a celebration it was! We saw 20 midwives come together in front of key stakeholders to present what they learned on their leadership journey.  

Everyone had a story to tell and although the journeys were different, the common theme was how much everyone had grown and developed as leaders over the last six months. It didn’t matter that we were not all in the same room: the chat bar was alive with supportive comments, with participants encouraging and praising each other as we went from one amazing presentation to the next. The stories were personal, individual and inspiring and included some tears but also lots of laughter.   

In addition to the leadership presentations, posters were shared which represented five joint projects in which participants were involved. Back in November, each delegate made a Dragon’s Den type pitch to have their project proposal accepted. These were then voted on and the projects chosen. This process in itself was exciting but also challenging. For those whose project was chosen there was a feeling of achievement but also a frisson of anxiety that they might not be able to deliver. For those whose pitch did not win there was obviously disappointment. However, everyone had to learn to work together in small virtual teams to reach their common goal – making the project a success.  

Throughout all of this, each person had a designated coach who gave them the space and time to think, reflect and grow as people and as leaders. In this space they learned to recognise their skills, to understand when it was good to lead and when to follow, and to appreciate the value of working collaboratively. In addition, people who did not even know each other before November became firm friends and colleagues who will continue to work together on their respective projects and who will continue to grow and to develop themselves and others. That, I think is the real success of the Midwifery Leadership and Development Programme.  

The RCM/Welsh Government Midwifery Leadership and Development Programme in its current reiteration has now been running for four years. Delegates apply from each Health Board and University in Wales.