Chief Nurse's Blog
Date of release: 5 May 2021
There aren’t many people who can say they get to witness magical events every day as part of their job. However, two of my senior nurses say exactly that.
Kate Cheshire and Stacey Thacker are the Deputy Heads of Midwifery at The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust. Both tell me that being a midwife is the most amazing job and there is no better feeling than witnessing new life coming into the world. I would like to celebrate their careers as part of International Midwives Day. For all the satisfaction they get from leading the service, nothing will replace the feeling of supporting women to give birth and seeing the look on a birth partner’s face when their baby is born. It remains a ‘magical’ moment they been privileged to share many times.
Kate joined the Trust as a student nurse in 1990 intending to do midwifery training but she loved nursing and it wasn’t until 1999 she decided to follow her dream. When she qualified, she worked on the maternity ward before moving to delivery suite, ensuring women’s birth experience was as close to their ideal as it could be, while maintaining the safety of mother and baby.
Midwives are autonomous practitioners and she was never happier than providing one-to-one care. With national changes around birthing environments and a growing evidence base of the safety and benefits of midwifery-led care for women and babies, the Trust opened its Midwifery Led Unit in October 2012 – and Kate was one of the first midwives to work in the unit, which now provides care for up to 20 per cent of our births each month. The Midwifery Led Unit was the utopia of midwifery practice for her, providing a safe and effective space for women to labour naturally while having an obstetric unit close at hand.
With a career-long passion for research, Kate was appointed as the Trust’s first research midwife in 2008, supporting a study looking at better identifying babies with potentially life-threatening heart conditions soon after birth. The resulting PulseOx study ensured babies were identified before they became symptomatic and that prompt referral and treatment took place, which became embedded as standard care. She spent 10 years working for Research and Development working on numerous studies alongside her clinical work.
In 2018, Kate moved into senior midwifery leadership – her most challenging role yet. But her motivation remains to ensure the safe and effective care of women, babies and families throughout women’s and neonatal services.
Stacey joined the Trust as a student nurse in 1997, really enjoying the fast pace of work in Emergency Department, surgery and gynaecology. Her first post was in neonatal intensive care, but it was always her intention to become dual qualified and in 2000 she started her midwifery degree. Stacey loved every area of maternity, but especially the thrill of working on the delivery suite. Once qualified as a midwife, she worked on the antenatal and postnatal ward for three years. Having moved to the delivery suite, she stayed for a decade and a half.
Stacey became a Delivery Suite Co-ordinator in 2007, taking the lead on the High Dependency Unit (HDU) on the delivery suite, developing our HDU care and midwifery training competencies. She has always been an active part of the intrapartum faculty team, teaching obstetric emergencies, and gained GIC instructor status in neonatal life support (NLS).
Stacey was also clinical audit midwife, leading on the audit element of Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts (CNST) for maternity services, alongside her delivery suite co-ordinator role. Stacey became Matron for Intrapartum and Gynaecology services in 2017. From working clinically for 20 years, this was a real change to a non-clinical senior leadership role. As Matron, she returned to her nursing roots and Gynaecology services – something she relished alongside midwifery and working closely with her nursing colleagues again. In 2020, she became one of our two Deputy Heads of Midwifery, during the most challenging year for us all, but she has come through with flying colours.
Whatever challenges have been thrown at them, Kate and Stacey continue to lead the service with utter professionalism and dignity and I am proud to have them leading our service.