Dr Maria Healy joined the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queen’s University Belfast as a Lecturer in Midwifery (Education) in September 2016 and she was recently appointed Senior Lecturer (Education) (effective from 1/8/21). Dr Maria Healy is currently the Midwifery Continuous Professional Academic Development (CPAD) lead and the School of Nursing and Midwifery SWAN Co-champion. She was programme director for the BSc (HONS) Midwifery Sciences programme (Sept 2018 – Feb. 2020). She is module coordinator, link lecturer and research supervisor. Prior to this appointment, Maria was the Head of Midwifery at University College Dublin, having joined UCD in 2000. She is a Registered Midwife (RM), Registered General Nurse (RGN) and Teacher (TCH) who has extensive experience in clinical midwifery practice.
Dr Healy as Principal Investigator or co-researcher over the last five years has accumulated considerable research funding. Maria was the project lead for the 'Northern Ireland Regional Individual MLU Audit, Regional Case Audit of the RQIA Guideline for Admission to MLUs in NI and Case Audit of NI Normal Labour and Birth Care Pathway within MLUs and Obstetric Units’. She initiated, chaired and co-project led the Development of RQIA Guideline for admission to midwife-led units in Northern Ireland & Northern Ireland (NI) Normal labour and birth care pathway (RQIA, 2016).
Informing policy and midwife-led services, the guideline has been implemented across NI HSC Trusts and in parts of England. It has generated huge international interest including a presentation at WHO HQ Global Midwifery Consultation (March 2018). The guideline has been translated into Swedish, Spanish, Catalan, German, Portuguese & Italian. Maria was an expert panel member of the European midwife-led unit standards and is an advisory board member of the European Midwife-led unit network.
Maria was co-project lead on a RQIA, guideline for ‘Planning birth at home in Northern Ireland’ (Nov. 2019), a reviewer for several professional peer review journals and subject editor of the Journal of Midwifery, Women’s Health and Nursing Practice. Maria was a sub-management committee member and part of working group two on the EU BIRTH Research project, (EU COST Action IS1405) and is a sub-management committee member of the current EU COST Action (CA18211) Perinatal mental health and birth-related trauma.
Dr Patricia Gillen (PhD) is a registered nurse and midwife who has worked across a range of clinical settings, been a delivery suite sister and managed a rural maternity unit. Having worked in academia since 2002, she is now in a joint post between the Southern Health and Social Care Trust as Head of Research and Development for Nurses, Midwives and AHPs and as a Reader in the School of Nursing, Ulster University. She is a UK representative for the European Midwives Association.
Patricia has led on the co-production of the RQIA Planning to Birth at Home in NI guideline and is currently leading on research into women and healthcare providers’ experiences of home birth. She is collaborating on a UK wide study which is exploring health and social care workers self-report on well-being and coping during COVID-19. She has published widely including a Cochrane Review of the Effectiveness of Interventions to Prevent Bullying in the Workplace, and has collaborated and led on a number of nursing, midwifery and AHP research and development projects with colleagues from the UK, Republic of Ireland, Europe, Switzerland and the USA. Her teaching and research interests include place of birth, perinatal mental health, research methods, workplace bullying and culture, burnout, healthy ageing in the workplace, and professional and public involvement in healthcare research.
Dr Julie McCullough is a Research Associate at the Maternal, Fetal and Infant Research Centre, Institute of Nursing and Health Research, Ulster University. Julie graduated from the Ulster University in 1999 with a Degree in Human Nutrition and a Diploma in Industrial Studies. She worked in the food industry for various multi-national companies as a laboratory scientist, before moving into operations management. During this time, she graduated from Queen’s University Belfast with a Post Graduate Diploma in Food Science. After the birth of her first child, Julie retrained as a complementary therapist specialising in maternity reflexology. Her interest in reflexology led her to a PhD at the Ulster University in 2011.
Julie carried out a randomised controlled trial at the Ulster Hospital investigating the biochemical and physiological outcomes associated with reflexology for pregnant women. Following this, she gained research posts with the Public Health Agency and Breastfeeding Strategy Implementation Steering Group, and the Northern Ireland Clinical Trials Unit.
Julie has worked at the Ulster University since 2016 on research projects including the European Union Horizon 2020 funded EUROlinkCAT – ConnectEpeople project using social media to work in co-production research with families across Europe who have a child with complex health conditions and the Watching Pregnancy Project investigating pregnancy related back pain. She was an audit team member of the ‘Regional Case Audit of the RQIA Guideline for Admission to MLUs in Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland Normal Labour and Birth Care Pathway’ led by Dr Maria Healy (QUB) and Dr Patricia Gillen (UU).
Julie is currently a team member on a number of research projects including investigating video conferencing technology for paediatric cardiology consultations during COVID-19, social media support for parents and pregnant women, breastfeeding and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy for managing perinatal mental health conditions.
Julie is the administrator for the Doctoral Midwifery Research Society (DMRS) and is also the DMRS Complementary Therapies Research Advisor. She won a Federation of Holistic Therapists Highly Commended Complementary Therapist of the Year award in 2018 and received The Association of Reflexologists Excellence in Research 2019 award.
Dale worked as a clinical midwife until she was awarded a Fellowship to undertake her PhD in 2001. Subsequently, she spent 14 years working in midwifery research and education at Queen’s University Belfast. Dale took up her post as Midwifery Officer at Department of Health, Northern Ireland Government in September 2019 where she provides professional leadership, policy direction and advice on all matters relating to the midwifery services agenda in NI.
Robert Mercer is the Regional Clinical Audit Facilitator working in the Improvement Directorate RQIA. He has worked in the Heath Service since May 1982 and throughout his 39 years service has always been involved in audit and quality improvement. During this time, Robert has been Chair of the Guidelines & Audit Implementation Network (GAIN) Clinical Audit Managers Forum (NI) and served as a member of the National Quality Improvement and Clinical Audit Network (UK).
Leslie Altic is a trained Birth and Postnatal Doula, Antenatal Educator, Hypnobirthing Practitioner and Chair of the Belfast Trust MSLC. Since the birth of her own children, she has been involved with maternity services in her local trust, working to shape and influence maternity services, policies and guidelines, and also volunteers with local parenting and support charities, such as BirthWise, The Parent Rooms and Sands NI.
Leslie is passionate about supporting women, birthing people and their families on their journey through pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period. She is an advocate for evidence-based information around pregnancy and birth so that parents can make the decisions that are right for them. Leslie believes that with the right information and support, birth can and should be a positive and empowering life-changing event, helping parents make the transition to parenthood feeling confident and with a sense of well-being.
Ruth is currently on maternity leave after welcoming her second child in late February born in a maternity led unit. Her first baby was born in an alongside maternity unit in 2018, then transferred to the maternity ward, then the neonatal ward.
In each pregnancy she researched her options and asked questions in order to be better informed, but she realises this is not always the case for expectant mothers. Ruth believes women need to be informed to help make the right decisions for them and for their babies. Due to this belief, Ruth volunteers with Birthwise, the SEHSCT Breastfeedinng Peer Support programme and Children’s Heartbeat Trust.
Katherine Robinson started nursing in 1986 and qualified as a midwife in 1994. Katherine completed her BSc in Professional Studies in Midwifery in 2002 and her PGCE teaching qualification in 2006. Katherine spent 2 years at Queen’s University Belfast as a practice educator.
Katherine has worked in the ‘Home form Home’ alongside midwifery led unit in the Ulster Hospital, Belfast since it opened in 2007, becoming the unit’s manager in 2011. Katherine was part of the working group which developed the Northern Ireland Regional Gain Guidelines for admission to a Midwifery led unit. The Home from Home unit has Auditing outcomes of all women in their care, the midwifery team work constantly to provide and expand the unique service it offers parents. Katherine has experience of maintaining and providing midwifery led care in a hospital setting and is well aware of the challenges and practicalities of developing this service for women in a predominantly medical culture.
Dr Lucia Rocca-Ihenacho studied anthropology in Italy where I also qualified as a midwife and worked in independent practice offering holistic care. In 2002 I moved to England where I worked for 13 years in the National Health Service in various clinical-academic positions including as a as a Consultant Midwife in Public Health in a large teaching hospital in London. My PhD focused on identifying the key ingredients for a well-functioning midwifery unit. Since 2015 I have been based at City, University of London where I am currently the Programme Director for the Global Maternal Health MSc.
I am one of the co-founders and CEO of the Midwifery Unit Network, a community of practice which supports the implementation and improvement of MUs in Europe and globally.
I am invited internationally to present at conferences, to facilitate training and to provide consultancy on how to develop and improve midwifery units.
I have experience of mentoring midwives and medical staff in clinical practice in a wide range of settings from home births in London to the mountains of rural Afghanistan.
I am passionate about supporting organisational change facilitation and the development of positive interdisciplinary team culture based on respecting the contribution of each role within the team.
I am committed towards women’s and birthing people human rights in childbirth and the recognition of midwives’ autonomy globally.