Much to celebrate
In June of this year, I was privileged to be appointed consultant editor of the British Journal of Midwifery (BJM)—a new role within the journal. Dame Professor Tina Lavender and Dr Yana Richens had, for many years, been the joint editors in chief of the journal, overseeing it's rise to the leading clinical journal for midwives and midwifery students. In this, my first editorial column, I decided to take this opportunity to celebrate all that is good about the midwifery profession. Midwifery as a profession attracts both females and males from all walks of life, backgrounds and ethnicities. This provides a rich canvas of understanding from which mothers, families, midwives and the wider NHS have benefited.
Maternity Matters (Department of Health [DOH], 2007) highlighted the need for choice and access for all women in every area. When Midwifery 2020 (DOH, 2010) was launched with the focus on providing an ‘informed vision of the contribution midwives will make to achieving quality, cost-effective maternity services for women, babies and families across the UK’, 2020 felt a long way away. There followed years of austerity in public services, a freeze on salaries within the NHS and the first-ever midwives strike. Yet, despite all, these midwives continued to champion the care of women and babies across the UK.
In this decade, the publication of Better Births (Cumberlege, 2016) was widely acclaimed for its focus on improving outcomes in maternity services for all women, following testimonies from women, partners and families across the country, alongside midwives and maternity providers. The establishment of Women's and Children's Services Partnership Boards to oversee the recommendations have mobilised midwives and maternity providers in the UK.
Continuity of care teams are well developed in some areas and the announcement by the government of an extra 3 000 student midwife places must be celebrated. This year, midwives also welcomed the announcement of the appointment of England's first Chief Midwifery Officer (NHS England, 2019), Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent—incidentally, a former BJM editorial board member.
Evidence of midwives in action facilitated by forward-thinking heads and directors of midwifery across the UK is extremely clear. Likewise, universities and higher education providers under the watchful eyes of their midwifery lecturers prepare our student midwives with the tools they need to provide care for mothers and babies for decades to come. A look at the articles in any issue of the BJM provides evidence of the ongoing research, audit, and changes in practice carried out, which ensure quality up-to-date care for our women.
With this in mind, let us go into the next decade with joy in our hearts and a spring in our step, celebrating what we have achieved; let us have optimism for what is yet to be accomplished by our unique profession.