Professor Billie Hunter

Professor Billie Hunter

RCM Professor of Midwifery and Director, WHO Collaborating Centre for Midwifery Development

School of Healthcare Sciences

+44 (0)29 206 88564
12.09, 12th Floor, Eastgate House, 35 - 43 Newport Road, Cardiff, CF24 0AB


In my role as the Royal College of Midwives Professor of Midwifery, I undertake a range of professional and research leadership activities. I am the Director of a new WHO Collaborating Centre for Midwifery Development within the WHO European Region, which focuses on strengthening midwifery throughout Europe. I am also the Research Theme Lead for the Maternal Child and Family Health and Wellbeing Research Theme.

My research programme is concerned with the culture of midwifery and maternity care, how this has changed over time and how it influences workforce and user experiences. I supervise postgraduate students with interests within this broad area.

I am primarily interested in investigating emotions and relationships within healthcare, and how these may affect support, intra- and inter-professional working and communication. My PhD study, exploring the emotional aspects of midwifery work, has resulted in a body of widely cited publications and conference presentations, including Hunter B and Deery R (2009) Emotions in Midwifery and Reproduction; Leap N. and Hunter B (2016) Supporting Women for Labour and Birth: A thoughtful Guide. I have methodological interests in the use of ethnography and oral history.

I am also interested in exploring how maternity care culture has changed over time, and have a background in the history of 20th century maternity care. Historical publications include: Leap N and Hunter B (1993/2013) The Midwife's Tale; Borsay A and Hunter B (2012) Nursing and Midwifery 1700-2000.

My current research interests are focused on resilience and emotional support in midwifery. I am keen to find ways to use this research to better support midwives in practice, in order to improve quality of care and user experiences.

Honours and awards

Fellow, Royal College of Midwives (July 2016)

Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Australia

Honorary Professor of Midwifery, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Physiotherapy, University of Nottingham

Visiting Professor, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford

Distinguished Visiting Scholar, February 2011, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia

Leading Practice Through Research Award, The Health Foundation. Oct 2004 - Dec 2006

Iolanthe Midwifery Trust Research Fellowship. September 1999 - September 2001

Ann Stewart Award, Iolanthe Midwifery Trust for commitment to midwifery practice. July 1999

Welsh National Board/General Nursing Council Research Training Fellowship, April 1997 - April 1998

Professional memberships

  • Royal College of Midwives
  • De Partu History of Childbirth Group

Career Overview

One of the first Bachelor of Nursing students in England, I undertook undergraduate study at Manchester University from 1972-76. I graduated with qualifications in general nursing, health visiting and district nursing, working for a short time in each of these roles before training as a midwife at Guys and St Thomas Hospitals. I developed a strong interest in working with new parents, particularly around the time of birth, leading to a clinical career in both midwifery (NHS and independent practice) and health visiting. I have worked in settings as diverse as Inner London and the Outer Hebrides, as well as in voluntary sector community projects.

In 1992 I moved into education, teaching at Pembrokeshire Further Education College before becoming a lecturer at Swansea University in 1996. I spent 16 years at Swansea University, gaining my PhD in 2002, supported by an Iolanthe Trust Research Fellowship. My PhD explored the emotion work undertaken by qualified and student midwives. In 2006, I was appointed as the first Chair of Midwifery in Wales. In this role, I developed the midwifery research programme at Swansea University, as well as supporting the general development of Welsh midwifery research. A Leading Practice Through Research Award from the Health Foundation from 2004-2006 supported an ethnographic study of the All Wales Clinical Pathway for Normal Labour and establishing the Midwifery and Reproductive Health Research Forum.

In February 2012 I was appointed as RCM Professor of Midwifery at Cardiff University.

Recent External Activities

International appointments:

Advisory Group Member, International Confederation of Midwives Expert Advisory Group on Midwifery and Maternal Health Research (2002 – on-going)

Sub-Editor and Editorial Board member, Women and Birth (Journal of the Australian College of Midwives)

International Advisory Board: Midwifery – International Journal (2006 – ongoing)

UK wide appointments:

Member, Council of Deans for Heath Research Advisory Group (2016-ongoing)

Member, AUKUH NMAHPs Clinical Academic Careers Development Group (2016-ongoing)

RCM Global Advisory Group (2016 – ongoing)

Project Advisory Group - The Abortion Act: a Biography. AHRC funded, PI Prof Sally Sheldon, University of Kent (2016-2018)

REF 2014 Appointment: Member of Sub-panel 3: Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy in 2014 Research Excellence Framework, representing midwifery research.

RCM Advisory Forum, Member (2014 - ongoing)

Member, Wellbeing of Women Research Advisory Committee (June 2012- 2015)

Editorial Panel: Evidence Based Midwifery Journal (2003 - ongoing)

Chair, Iolanthe Midwifery Trust (Nov 2006 – Nov 2010).

Trustee, Iolanthe Midwifery Trust (2004 - 2006; Nov 2010 – March 2015). UK wide charity that provides competitive funding to enhance the well-being of mothers, their babies and their families by improving the education and professional development of midwives.

Board Member, Academy of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting Research (UK), representing Royal College of Midwives (2009 - 2013)

National Steering Group Member and Workstream Group Member, Midwifery 2020 (May 2009 - July 2010)

Steering Group Member, Royal College of Midwives Campaign for Normal Birth (2009 - 2012)

Steering Group member, De Partu History of Childbirth Group ( 2009-ongoing)

Welsh appointments:

Founder (2005) and Chair (Oct 2005 – Nov 2010)/ Vice Chair (2010 – 2012) All Wales Midwifery and Reproductive Health Research Forum.

Independent member, Clinical Trial and Project Steering Committees - Healthy Eating and Lifestyle in Pregnancy (HELP) study (South East Wales Trials Unit, Cardiff University) (Nov 2009 – 2014)

Expert Advisor, Welsh Government (April 2009 - ongoing)

Executive Committee Member, All Wales Perinatal Survey (June 2009- 2013)

Executive Committee Member, NISCHR Children and Young Peoples’ Registered Research Group (April 2009 – 2015)

Steering Group Member, NISCHR Patient Safety and Healthcare Quality Registered Research Group (April 2010 – 2015)

National Steering Group Member, Midwifery 2020 (May 2009 - July 2010)

Peer reviewer: I regularly review for a number of midwifery, healthcare, medical sociology and history journals.

Referee (Grant awarding bodies):

I regularly referee for a number of grant awarding bodies including: NIHR HSRSDO, NIHR RfPB, NIHR HTA, ESRC

£7,500 Wellcome Trust/Cardiff University Humanities Collaborative Award: Narratives of Birth and Place: An Oral History of Birth 1948-1970. April 2016-December 2016 ( PI Billie Hunter with Dr Kate Boyer, Cardiff University and Dr Angela Davis, University of Warwick)

£164,046 Burdett Trust for Nursing Develop individualised pregnancy weight charts, train midwives in weight management discussions and assess the feasibility and acceptability of using gestational weight charts. Jan 2016-December 2017 ( Co-applicant with Dr Julia Sanders (PI), Dr Lucie Warren, Dr Sue Channon,  Dr Shantini Paranjothy

£20,000 Royal College of Midwives Exploring the Public Health Role of Midwives and Maternity Support Workers. Nov 2014 - Jan 2015 ( PI Billie Hunter with Dr Julia Sanders and Dr Lucie Warren)

£293,589 NIHR HTA Peer Support for Breastfeeding Maintenance (Mamkind Study) Oct 2014-Aug 2016. (Co-applicant with MEDIC/SEWTU. PI Dr Shantini Paranjothy)

£4623 NISCHR Patient Safety and Healthcare Quality Registered Research Group. Research Development Group: Inter-professional team working on labour ward March 2014- Feb 2015. (Co-applicant with Prof Alison Fiander PI (MEDIC), Dr Aled Jones(HCARE), Dr Andrew Carsons-Stevens (MEDIC), Dr Lucie Warren (HCARE)

£2700 NISCHR Patient Safety and Healthcare Quality Registered Research Group. Research Development Group: Supervision in midwifery. March 2014-Feb 2015 (Joint PI with Dr Aled Jones HCARE)

£2700 NISCHR Patient Safety and Healthcare Quality Registered Research Group.Research Development Group: Maternity Carebundles. Co-applicant with Ray Samuriwo PI (HCARE).

£5000, Wellcome Trust, 'Witness seminar on Changing Childbirth twenty years on: genesis, implementation and legacy.'   October 17th 2013, RCOG London (Co-applicant with Dr Tania Macintosh University of Nottingham (PI) and Prof Mavis Kirkham University of West of Scotland)

£120,000, NLIAH, 'Contributing to an evidence base in workforce research. (PI. Prof D Kelly), Prof B Hunter, Prof P. Donnelly, Prof Z Radnor, Dr A Jones, Dr A McDermott, C O'Brien, Dr S Pratt and Dr D Watkins.

£7558, 2012 Royal College of Midwives. Investigating Resilience in Midwifery. Funding to support a preliminary qualitative investigation ( online focus groups and Delphi Group), as a precursor to developing an intervention to enhance resilience in midwifery. ( Lead Applicant: Billie Hunter)

£184,717, March 31st 2011 -   March 30th 2014 University of Surrey. RESPONSE: A collaborative research project to understand how (poor) communication by nurses and midwives contributes to complaints and to explore the role of clinical leadership in promoting effective communication for nurses and midwives in responding to informal complaints. Co-investigator. PI Dr Helen Allan, Centre for Research in Nursing & Midwifery Education, Division of Health & Social Care, Faculty of Health & Medical Sciences, University of Surrey. (  £7,231 to Swansea University)

$5193 (AUS $) 7-20th Feb 2011 University of Technology, Sydney, Australia. Distinguished Visiting Scholar ( Applicants: Professor Caroline Homer, Dr Jenny Fenwick, Professor Billie Hunter)

£2,283 1st December 2010 -   30th November 2011. National Institute for Social Care and Health Research (NISCHR) Children and Young People's Research Network. Seedcorn funding for new Research Development Group "Enhancing support for parents with babies in neonatal intensive care". (Lead Applicant: Billie Hunter, with co-applicants from Swansea University, Cardiff University, University of Central Lancashire, and clinicians from Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board )

2100 June 2010 EPSRC Bridging the Gaps Funding. $acirc;  A Life in Error$acirc;  . Distinguished Lecture and Masterclass by Professor James Reason, Emeritus Professor, Manchester University (Lead Applicant: Billie Hunter, Co-applicant Prof Harold Thimbleby, Professor of Computer Science, Swansea University )

£51,558 April 1st 2009 -   March 31st 2012 Research Capacity Building Collaboration Wales for Nursing and Allied Health Professionals (rcbcwales) PhD Fellowship. Managing weight gain in pregnancy: women's experience and clinical practice    Student: Lucie Warren; Co-applicants: Prof Billie Hunter, Dr Jaynie Rance

£6025. 1 Jan 2009 - 31 Dec 2009 Royal College of Midwives Welsh Board. Mapping Maternity Care and Outcomes in Wales Study. (Co-applicant with All Wales Midwifery and Reproductive Health Research Forum)

£4072. 1st June 2008 - 30 th November 2009. Swansea NHS Trust R&D Vaginal Birth After Caesarean Section -   Decision Making in Subsequent Pregnancies in a Maternity Unit with High Intervention Rates. ( PI : Sarah Fox, co-applicants Prof Billie Hunter, Dr Myriam Bonduelle)

£146,576. October 2004 - October 2006 The Health Foundation: Leading Practice Through Research Award A Policy Ethnography of the All Wales Clinical Pathway for Normal Labour. Principal Investigator: Billie Hunter

£50,000. September 1999 - September 2001 Iolanthe Midwifery Trust Research Fellowship Principal Investigator: Billie Hunter

£7000. 2003 Health Professions Wales McAteer V Hunter B Sexuality in the student midwife curriculum

£14,000. 2004-2005 Health Professions Wales Darra S, McIvor M, Hunter B An investigation into the career pathways of three year student midwives in Wales

£7000. 2005-2006 Health Professions Wales Scouller A Hunter B The role of midwives in supporting women to have a healthy diet in pregnancy .

£5000. 1997-1998 Welsh National Board/General Nursing Council Research Training Fellowship.