Your thoughts: Staying strong

By Julie Richards on 21 November 2017 Midwives Magazine RCM

Julie Richards draws up a front seat as the RCM board chair at a time of great change for maternity services. 

I put myself forward as chair to the RCM board as I felt I could offer strong leadership and support to the new board during its evolution. I believed my experience as an existing member of the board, and a member of the audit and risk committee and the investment committee had given me a good understanding of governance and board performance.  

My career as HoM, local supervising authority midwifery officer and, currently, women and children’s service manager at Powys Teaching Health Board has given me experience working at a national level and enables me to focus on strategic objectives, performance and delivery. 

I felt there was a need to support a new board and to welcome a new CEO into position, and as I had already established relationships with the RCM executive management and administrative team, this would aid good communication. 

I really enjoy the background reading and understanding of relevant papers, and I am able to offer a balanced approach to relevant decision-making. I am in a good position with my substantive role to be available for the support and time that will be needed over the next two years. I am grateful to my employer and my colleagues who are strong advisors in the women and children’s service team to enable me to fully engage with the commitment required. 

As an established board member I was already aware of the vital role the board has to play in ensuring that the RCM is a strong, vibrant organisation that meets its strategic objectives. The board needs to strive with active members to challenge appropriately – in effect, to scrutinise what the RCM does and ensure the RCM remains fit for purpose in the rapidly changing world we operate in. 

It is important that the board plays an active role in upholding the RCM’s vision to meet the needs of all members, and develop strong leaders to ensure midwives are represented at all levels to advocate for women. 

My first and key priority has been to offer relevant support to existing and new board members. In its first few months, the new board has focused on supporting and encouraging all its members to draw on their skills, experience and relevant knowledge, and to offer stability as new committee members became established.  

The board played a key role in the recruitment and selection of the new chief executive. It has been a privilege as chair to offer support and a warm welcome to both new CEO Gill Walton and new president Kathryn Gutteridge. It has been important to support Gill in her first 100 days in her engagement and listening plans and to support her vision to strengthen ‘OUR RCM’, where members support each other, share best practice and collectively improve care and experience for women and families. 

Over the next 12 months we need to continue to raise the profile, visibility and function of the board to encourage future members to consider putting themselves forward for nomination.

Julie Richards is RCM board chair