Influence the future of research and help us find the top 10 priorities for midwifery practice and maternity care. The RCM wants all members of our profession, together with student midwives, MSWs and service users to get involved 

The first project survey is now closed. Over 950 responses were provided, and the team and Steering Group are now analysing this data.

We anticipate that the second project survey will open in September 2024. Please complete this form to receive the link to the second survey once it is open, and / or to receive project updates.

Click here to be taken over to the project page on the James Lind Alliance website

Jenny and Jude, the project leads, can be contacted at [email protected]  


Support for maternity service users

Completion of the survey may bring up difficult or uncomfortable memories. We have curated a list of organisations that provide support if needed, click here to download it.

You can also look at the full list of Project Partner logos to find other organisations that may be able to provide you with specialist support. Alternatively, or in addition, you can contact the maternity service who provided your care.  


The project

This project is an exciting opportunity to come together and influence the future of UK midwifery and maternity research. The optimum outcome is that the priorities we identify are funded and turned into research studies. This will have a direct impact on the experience of women and birthing people during their maternity care. It will also of course impact midwives and maternity support workers and maternity services more widely. ​ 

We are working with the James Lind Alliance, a non-profit organisation, and this will ensure that a rigorous, systematic and transparent process will be followed. ​ 

This project is important as maternity research receives less funding than many other areas of healthcare. The RCM is bringing together a range of stakeholders to discover the gaps in evidence across all areas of midwifery practice and maternity care and to agree which are the most important for future research to address. The final top 10 research priorities will be championed by the RCM and other organisations in order to influence funders and policy makers. 

The aim of the midwifery practice and maternity care PSP is to identify the unanswered questions about all areas or aspects of midwifery practice and agree which are the most important for research to address.   

The objectives of the PSP are to:   

  •  work with women and birthing people, and their families and friends, service user organisations, midwives and MSWs to identify uncertainties about midwifery practice and maternity care    
  • to agree, by consensus, a prioritised list of those uncertainties for research  
  • to publicise the results of the PSP and process  
  •  to take the results to research commissioning bodies to be considered for funding. 

The scope of this PSP will include:   

  •     Perspectives gathered from all four countries of the UK.  
  •     Perspectives from:  
  • Midwives (regardless of current professional focus), student midwives and maternity support workers  
  • Service users – which include women and birthing people, their partners, families and friends  
  •  Service user organisations    
  •     Perspectives about:  
  • Midwifery care and practice* - this also includes the role and activities undertaken by maternity support workers.  
  • Education and development  
  • Workforce and staff wellbeing  
  • Any other sphere of midwifery practice  

*The PSP will exclude from its scope questions which are outside the midwifery scope of practice, as defined by the Nursing and Midwifery Council in its Standards of Proficiency for Midwives.  

The Steering Group will be responsible for discussing what implications the scope of the PSP will have for the evidence-checking stage of the process.  Resources and expertise will be put in place to do this evidence checking.   

We are following the JLA’s Priority Setting Partnership process and working with a JLA Advisor, Dr. Nahid Ahmad, throughout the length of the project. There will be two surveys to gather responses about research priorities. The first survey will open on 8 January 2024 and will invite a general open response to the priorities for research. You can access the survey here.

The second survey will open September 2024 and include a long list of priorities which have been developed from the first survey. There will be an in-person workshop in January 2025 to finalise the priorities, followed by the publication of a report in May 2025. 

The project timeline

The project timeline

You are invited to register as an Interested Party at any time during the project. Registering means that you will be automatically sent the two online project surveys and the invitation to express your interest in attending the final project workshop.   

Click here to fill out our Expression of Interest form to register as an Interested Party. 

The project structure

The project structure

  • Project Leads - The RCM Research Advisors, Jenny Cunningham and Dr. Jude Field are leading this project.  You can contact Jude and Jenny on [email protected]  
  • Project support –     Dr Sara Webb (Head of Research, RCM), Dr Yana Richens (NIHR Senior Research Leader, Director of Midwifery) and Louise Deighton-O’Hara (information specialist) are providing support to the Project Leads 
  • Our JLA Advisor - Dr Nahid Ahmad 
  • Review group - The Research Team decided to add an additional layer to the JLA PSP, a Review Group made up of three eminent midwifery professors:  Professor Helen Cheyne of the University of Stirling, Professor Vanora Hundley of Bournemouth University and Professor Julia Sanders of Cardiff University. The Review Group provides academic rigour and guidance to the team, meeting regularly throughout the project lifespan.  
Steering Group

The Steering Group membership includes women and birthing people, as individuals or as representatives from relevant organisations, midwives, a student midwife and maternity support workers. The midwives bring with them their varied backgrounds and experiences across clinical, leadership, education and research roles. Membership of the group was achieved via Expression of Interest. Over 60 midwives and service users applied. The group provides representation across a range of midwifery and maternity service experience, and from across the four countries of the UK. The group is responsible for making key project decisions, throughout the life of the project.  

The Group is chaired by our JLA Advisor Dr. Nahid Ahmad.  

The group meets regularly, online.  

A recent Steering Group meeting

Dr. Laura Abbott, an accomplished researcher and midwifery lecturer, serves as an Associate Professor at the University of Hertfordshire. Recognised as a Registered Midwife and Fellow of the Royal College of Midwives, her innovative doctoral work delved into the experiences of pregnant women in English prisons. Co-author of "The Birth Charter," she advocates for pregnant women's rights. Dr. Abbott's influence extends to shaping policy for Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Services. Co-founder of the Pregnancy in Prison Partnership International and leader of 'The Lost Mothers Project,' she remains dedicated to improving support for incarcerated pregnant women and new mothers, showcasing her international collaboration and advocacy.  

Laura Abbot

I work as part of a specialist midwifery research team within Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust. I have been qualified for 15years, with extensive experience in multiple areas of midwifery. 

I feel that research provides a multifaceted improvement to the services we offer, the opportunity to be integral to this project appeals to my passion for midwifery care. 

Mel is a registered nurse/ midwife working as a reader in maternity and migrant health. Her research focuses on overcoming health inequalities in ethnic minority (including migrant) communities through co-producing and evaluating interventions including digital technology and peer support. Mel co-developed the Maternity Stream charity to ensure 'experts by experience', including people who are asylum seekers and refugees are central to service development and research.

Racheal Crane is the Maternity Bereavement Support Worker at the James Paget University Hospital in Norfolk. Racheal successfully applied on the Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Healthcare Professionals (NMAHP) Scholarship Programme in which she developed a baby loss bereavement and aftercare service. The title of her work was Max’s Legacy, in memory of her little boy that she sadly lost 20 weeks into her pregnancy; Racheal has since gone on to have her work published in the British Journal of Midwifery and received several awards, one being a finalist in the Support Worker of the Year category in the 2023 Royal College of Nursing Awards respectively. She has also presented at many conferences locally and nationally. 

Racheal Crane

Sarah has been a registered nurse and midwife for over 30 years and has worked in the UK and the USA.  Sarah is currently an Associate Professor in Midwifery at London South Bank University  with an interest in improving the pregnancy outcomes for high risk women during pregnancy and protecting the cultural identity of women and birthing people. Sarah has published papers on culture, black African women and pregnancy, sickle cell anaemia and FGM. In her former role as a RCN midwifery forum committee member Sarah has contributed to RCN guidance on FGM. Sarah sat for eight years as a NMC fitness to practice panellist and has in-depth knowledge of professional regulation and fitness to practice. Sarah received an RCN innovation award for setting up one of the first labour triage units in London. She also received the first Dora Opoku BAME award to fund her PhD studies,  the Ann Steward award for commitment to midwifery practice  and the Jean Davies award for inequalities in women’s health from The Iolanthe Midwifery Trust. Sarah is currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Hertfordshire exploring the perceptions of Nigerian women and midwives of cultural competency in antenatal care. 

Sarah Esegbona-Adeigbe

Dr Christine Furber is a successful leader in midwifery with over 30 years’ experience in midwifery education and researchHer expertise is in co-creation of midwifery programmes alongside research in pedagogy and public health topics. She currently teaches midwifery at Salford University. Dr Furber has disseminated her work globally in publications and conference presentations

Christine Furber

I am Abi and I am a mum of a gorgeous boy and pregnant with my second. I am part of the JLA as a service user on this study in the hope to help improve maternity services for future women.  

Melanie is a third year Midwifery Sciences student at Queen’s University Belfast. Since embarking upon her degree, she has represented Northern Ireland on the Royal College of Midwives Student Midwives Forum. Melanie obtained an LLB in Law in 2008 from University College London.

Consultant midwife for The Northwest Ambulance Service (NWAS) and NIHR Senior Nursing and Midwifery Research Leader. Expertise: Maternity care delivery, emergency nursing, prehospital care and improving care experiences amongst disadvantaged and vulnerable women. Research interests include emergency and unscheduled care for women, birthing people, and neonates with a focus on health disparities amongst disadvantaged and vulnerable women.  

Nadia Higson is a volunteer for AIMS, a charity that provides evidence-based information and support to maternity service users, and campaigns for improvements in the maternity services.  

She has a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology, is a Certified Member of the Market Research Society, and has been an MSLC/MVP user representative for ten years. 

Nadia Higson

Emma Lesley is currently a Maternity Support worker at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust.  

Emma’s Interest have been to find invocative ways to improve care. This has recently been highlighted and rewarded as an unsung hero by the Royal College of Midwives. Her experience of working for the Department of Work and Pensions within the Jobcentre plus given a great incite and realist understanding of the frontline needs of women. 

Her interest has driven her trust to improve outcomes clinically and in public health ensuring the standards of wants and needs are met. 

Emma Lesley

Katherine is the Project Lead for the National Maternity Stream of Sanctuary work which sits under the umbrella organisation, City of Sanctuary UK. This work aims to improve maternity service provision for women seeking sanctuary across the UK (women with refugee status, women seeking asylum, those who have been trafficked) coordinating across multiple grassroots organisations.  

Katherine is a midwife by background and is currently a midwifery lecturer at the University of East Anglia. Katherine is currently doing her PhD at City University of London. 

Katherine Letley

Amber Marshall founded in 2011. The website and Facebook group supports and advocates for higher BMI pregnancies, helping people to understand and contextualise the available data in order to make truly informed, evidence based choices. 

She contributes as a lay member to clinical guidelines for NICE and RCOG, and assists a number of Universities through guest lecturing, oversight committees, and PPI involvement in research. 

Amber Marshall

Experience as a clinician, academic and researcher across midwifery, maternity and neonatal care.  As a Head of Programme within NHS Education for Scotland (NES) I have responsibilities for national maternity and neonatal workforce and educational development. I am a board member of the Scottish Cot Death Trust, Consultant Editor of the British Journal of Midwifery, Senior Fellow of Advance HE and Fellow of the RCM.   

Tom McEwan

Sian Rogers is a Research Midwife at Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust. She works as part of a busy team delivering research on the NIHR portfolio. Sian is currently seconded to Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine to work on a project exploring the impact of bereavement support interventions for parents and families from ethnic minorities after pregnancy loss or the death of a baby before or during birth. 

Sian Rogers

Laura-Rose is a married lesbian mother of four donor conceived children by IUI and IVF over twelve years.  She is an LGBT+, Maternity and Fertility Activist, educator, writer, seasoned speaker, & campaigner. She is Founder of LGBT Mummies, supporting over 70,000 worldwide through guidance, community, support groups and events. Through Proud Foundations, she lectures & trains midwives and healthcare professionals, educates and consults with organizations to be inclusive, & has worked with the Government, NHSE & DHSC making policy & law recommendations & has been invited into and presented in Parliament. She has multiple roles across NHSE, RCOG,UCL, HFEA, MMHA, MNVP, influencing change to create equity and equality for marginalised minority groups. She is also a Trustee for UK charity Fertility Network UK. 

Laura-Rose Thorogood

Jenny is Reader in Midwifery Research at Queen’s University Belfast. Jenny is committed to maximising the contribution of midwifery to enhancing outcomes for women and families in the perinatal period. Incorporating maternity service users in designing and providing high-quality midwifery education and research is fundamental to achieving enhanced outcomes for women and families.

Project Partners

Organisations are invited to register as Project Partners throughout the life of the project. Registering means that an organisation agrees to:  

  • Provide an organisation logo to be included on the RCM project website and in resulting publications  
  • To promote the project within in their networks, including dissemination of the two online surveys and the expression of interest to attend the final project workshop  

The opportunity to attend non-compulsory occasional online meetings, piloting the two online surveys amongst their staff and/or membership and to share the project poster electronically on relevant social media or in hard copy in their organisation locations  

Click here to fill out our Expression of Interest form to join our Project Partners. 

APEC logoAIMS logo           BWC logo       GBSS logo  LGBT Mummies logo   Liverpool Women's NHS Foundation Trust MSCS logo Miscarriage Association logoMothers for Mothers logo       Northumbria University logoNWAS logo PSS logo      University of Hertfordshire