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NHS England appoint chief midwife for South West

Helen Williams has been made the first "chief midwife" for the South West of England (Credit: NHS England)

The NHS has appointed a chief midwife to improve maternity care across the South West.

NHS England say Helen Williams will be responsible for providing safer and more personal care for women and their babies.

They say she has worked in the NHS for 37 years starting her career as a registered nurse before qualifying as a midwife in 1989. 

"Throughout her career, Helen has worked across all areas of maternity services in a variety of clinical and managerial roles at Trusts within the South West region," their press release reads.

Helen Williams herself says she is "proud and honoured" to be taking up the role.

“I am very much looking forward to joining both the NHS England and NHS Improvement - South West regional team and the new team of Chief Midwives across the country," she said.

“I will seek to provide senior midwifery leadership and support to our maternity teams and to promote safe and high-quality maternity services for the current and future generations of women and their families.

“I will bring my own set of personal and professional values to the regional team and together we can continue to improve and develop safe, high quality and sustainable maternity care”. 

The NHS say she will lead on "maternity transformation" by implementing the recommendations of Better Births, the report of the national maternity review, and the implementation of the NHS Long Term plan in the South West.

This includes making care more personal by ensuring that by 2021 most women are cared for by the same midwife before, during and after birth.

Continuity of carer will be prioritised for those women and unborn children who would benefit from it the most, including those who are from BAME or disadvantaged backgrounds.

Helen will also support England’s first Chief Midwifery Officer, Professor Jaqueline Dunkley-Bent, in her work leading the development of maternity care.

Professor Jaqueline Dunkley-Bent, chief midwifery officer for England, said: "I am absolutely delighted to welcome Helen in her new role at what is a pivotal time for maternity care, as we look to make every mum’s experience of giving birth more personal.

“During the Year of the Nurse and Midwife we will be celebrating the extraordinary contribution that midwives make to new mums, babies and their families, so this is a significant time to make this important announcement.”

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