Professor Mary Renfrew, University of Dundee, will deliver the Royal College of Midwives Annual Zepherina Veitch Lecture
At crucial point in evolution of midwifery says top midwife in RCM Annual Lecture
In a lecture to be delivered on Thursday 10th December 2015, Professor Mary Renfrew - Professor of Mother and Infant Health at the University of Dundee - will outline the central position of midwifery in maternal and newborn health and care. She will situate midwifery in the wider concerns about quality of care, the sustainability of over-medicalised health systems, increasing inequalities in provision of care, and increasing awareness of the disrespect and abuse that many childbearing women experience.
Professor Renfrew will be delivering the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) Annual Zepherina Veitch Lecture*.
She will draw on her extensive career in research, education, policy, and practice, and will focus particularly on the Lancet Midwifery Series**, of which she was Principal Investigator. Her lecture will also be informed by the outcomes of a maternity colloquium held by the RCM and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in October 2015.
Professor Renfrew will stress that the current global focus on the contribution of midwifery is an opportunity to increase accessibility to high quality midwifery care for women and children. Evidence shows that midwifery care can reduce maternal and newborn mortality, as well as improving maternal and infant health and well-being and reducing unnecessary interventions in childbirth.
She will also focus on UK maternity services. Her lecture will look at the potential opportunities for ‘radical change’ for midwifery and maternity services, presented by the ongoing national maternity reviews in England and Scotland.
There are also challenges. Professor Renfrew will highlight the issues facing midwifery, such the current climate in the wake of the Kirkup report. She will reflect on other issues such as ‘professional territorialism’, unrealised policy ambitions and the over medicalisation of care.
She will discuss some of the ‘contentious issues’ facing the profession and challenge the often polarised debate around the place and role of midwifery in the UK.
Finally, Professor Renfrew will say why midwifery has a unique and irreplaceable role in promoting the survival, health and well-being of women and children. She will stress that wherever midwifery is strong and embedded into the health system it works to protect women, infants and families, strengthens women’s own capabilities, and promotes longer-term health and well-being. She will argue that health systems without strong midwifery have escalating rates of unnecessary interventions. This she argues is a pattern of health system provision that is unsustainable and harmful.
The lecture will also see midwife Sheena Byrom receive a Royal College of Midwives Honorary Fellowship for her contribution to the profession and the care of mothers, babies and their families. Her memoir, Catching Babies: A Midwife’s Tale, is a Sunday Times bestseller and she was awarded an OBE in 2011 for services to midwifery.