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Midwife and educator whose work has had ‘global impact’ receives national honour

16 March 2021

A Welsh midwife has received a prestigious Royal College of Midwives (RCM) Fellowship for her inspiring work.

Grace Thomas, a Reader in Midwifery at Cardiff University who leads the midwifery degree programme, received her award at the RCM’s virtual Education Conference today.

The Fellowship was awarded for her contribution to midwifery in a career spanning more than 30 years, but particularly for her national and international work.

Her career has taken her from frontline senior midwifery roles in the NHS to roles with global impact. Along with her educational roles at the University and UK-wide, Grace is also Deputy Director of Cardiff University’s World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Midwifery Development, one of only two such centres in the world.

“I am so delighted to be awarded this honour. I have had the privilege of being a midwife for 32 years, in many roles, and now I’m fortunate to be in education – leading and supporting the next generation of midwives in their learning,” said Ms Thomas.

“My focus is to provide the best possible compassionate, respectful and safe care for women, newborns and their families. The evidence is clear, that knowledgeable, skilled, caring and sensitive midwives make a difference to the outcomes of childbirth.

“Globally this means saving lives, when we work in partnership with women and in multi-disciplinary teams with other health professionals such as doctors. This award is very special and I look forward to working alongside the other RCM Fellows to promote our profession.”

Gill Walton, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “For a small country Wales has a massive impact on global midwifery, and much of this is down to the knowledge, contribution and efforts of Grace.

“Her contributions closer to home have also been significant in improving the care women receive, in the education of midwives, championing equality and in many other areas, too many to mention.  This could not go to someone more deserving and I congratulate Grace on this recognition and for the incredible work she is doing.”

Among Ms Thomas’s many achievements was leading an all-Wales group to publish the first national Birth Centre Guidelines in 2007. This had a significant impact on care for women using maternity services and remains central to Wales’s maternity strategy.

The Cardiff University programme she leads is ranked best in the UK. She was co-founder and lead for the first all-Wales group looking at Perinatal Mental Health.

In demand internationally, her work has seen her travelling to Namibia, Oman, to Eastern Europe for WHO work, and as a speaker at many international conferences, including Australia, Canada and Sweden.

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