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Professor Billie Hunter CBE

Professor Billie Hunter


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

School of Healthcare Sciences

+44 (0)29 206 88564
12.09, Eastgate House, Newport Road, Cardiff, CF24 0AB



As Professor of Midwifery, my role includes a range of professional, international and research leadership activities. I am the Director of a WHO Collaborating Centre for Midwifery Development, which focuses on strengthening midwifery throughout the WHO European Region and Co-Chair of the WHO Collaborating Centres' Midwifery Network. In July 2016 I was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Midwives and in June 2018 I was awarded a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours, in recognition of my services to midwifery and midwifery education in the UK and in Europe. I am an Honorary Professor of Midwifery at University of Nottingham and an Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Australia.

My key research interest is in emotions within healthcare, and how the emotional aspscts of worklife may affect staff wellbeing, intra- and inter-professional relationships and quality of care. My research projects have 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, 2021) Supporting Women for Labour and Birth: A Thoughtful Guide. My methodological interests are in qualitative research especially the use of ethnography and oral history. I am also interested in exploring how maternity care culture has changed over time, in particular the history of 20th century maternity care and what we can learn from this. 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.


Career Overview

My career has been interesting and varied! 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. This has offered new opportunities for international engagement at a strategic level, and in 2016 I was appointed as the Director of a new WHO Collaborating Centre for Midwifery Development in the WHO European Region. I am involved in a range of WHO activities, inclduing being the Co-Chair of the WHO Collaborating Centres' Midwifery Network. I hold a number of honorary appointments and in June 2018 I was awarded a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours, in recognition of my services to midwifery and midwifery education in the UK and in Europe.

I am a Trustee of the Birth Partner Project, a Cardiff based charity which supports refugess and asylum seeking women by providing volunteer support around the time of birth, so that no woman has to give birth alone.

Honours and awards

  • CBE, June 2018
  • Fellow of the Royal College of Midwives

Professional memberships

Fellow and Member of the Royal College of Midwives

Academic positions

  • March 2006 - Feb 2012 Professor of Midwifery, College of Human and Health Sciences, Swansea University.
  • November 2001 - Feb 2006 Senior Lecturer/ Head of Centre (Midwifery Research), Centre for Midwifery and Gender Studies, School of Health Science, University of Wales Swansea.
  • Sept 1996 - October 2001 Lecturer in Midwifery, School of Health Science, University of Wales, Swansea.
  • August 1992 - August 1996 Lecturer in Health and Community Studies, Pembrokeshire College, Haverfordwest, Pembs
  • 1977- 1991 Range of clinical positions, mainly community based working as a midwife and health visitor, in locations across the UK.

Speaking engagements

Recent International speaking engagements

I am regularly invited to give plenary and keynote papers at UK and international midwifery conferences.

Expert panel member, WHO Culture and Health Webinar Series ‘Happy Birthday! Childbirth in the WHO EURO region’ Webinar 8th October 2020

Keynote Speaker: Strengthening Midwifery in Europe: The Role of the WHO CC for Midwifery Development. The 10th Edition of the Annual Conference of The Order of Nurses, Midwives and Medical Assistants, Bucharest Branch, Romania “The Art of Health Care – the Implementation into Practice of the Quality and Patient Safety Standards”, 9 – 10th May 2019, Magic Place Events Grant, Bucharest

Invited speaker: The WHO CC for Midwifery Development - Pecha Kucha. WHO HQ Geneva, March 21st 2018

Keynote Speaker: Investing in the midwifery workforce – to benefit women babies and families. Conference: 2018 – Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Health is a Human Right, Lithuanian University of Healthcare Sciences, Kaunas Lithuania and Kaunas Hospital. 4th May 2018

Panel Chair and Speaker: Technical session 2:  INCLUDE: Improving Coverage and Access for everyone. Panel one: Midwives supporting improving coverage and access. WHO European Region meeting, Royal Olympic Hotel, Athens 3rd October 2018

Keynote Speaker: Investing in the midwifery workforce – the importance of resilience. Hellenic Midwives Conference, Royal Olympic Hotel, Athens Greece 5th October 2018

Keynote speaker: Midwifery Education and Research at Cardiff University. Lithuanian University of Healthcare Sciences, Kaunas Lithuania. 7th September 2017

Keynote Speaker: Keeping going when the going gets tough. Australian College of Midwives Student Conference , Adelaide Australia, 30th October 2017

Keynote Speaker: Midwifery: A resilient profession? Australian College of Midwives 20th Annual Conference, Adelaide Australia, 31 October-2 November 2017

Workshop lead: (with Prof Nicky Leap) Supporting women who are having a complicated labour: An Interactive Workshop Australian College of Midwives Student Conference , Adelaide Australia, 31 October-2 November 2017

Keynote Speaker: Reflecting on Emotions and Resilience in Midwifery. Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia ,7th November 2017

Guest Speaker: What does resilience mean for healthcare practitioners? Insights from UK midwives. Faculty Presentation, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia, 8th November 2017

Keynote speaker: How to Keep Going – Preserving Resilience and Compassion All Ireland Midwifery Conference Dublin, 13th October 2016

Guest Speaker: Caring for the Carers - Resilience and Compassion in midwifery. Joint seminar: Icelandic Midwives’ Association/Midwifery Dept University of Iceland Reykjavik/Women’s Clinic University Hospital of Iceland Reykjavik. 14th December 2016

Recent UK speaking engagements

Keynote presentation ‘Emotional support, women, midwives, students and Covid-19’ Midwifery and Maternity Festival 16th September 2020

Keynote speaker and panel member, RCM Conference, Caring for You – Ensuring workplace health and wellbeing. Manchester, 24 - 25th September 2019

Keynote speaker RCM Zepherina Veitch Lecture, 11th June 2019, Bath

Guest speaker: Strengthening midwifery: The role of the WHO CC for midwifery development. Once for Wales Midwifery Education Conference: Inspiring Future Midwives in Wales. Swansea University, 5th August 2019

Guest Speaker: Collegiate day for BMId students, Swansea Uni 28th Aug 2019.

Keynote Speaker: Keeping going when the going gets tough: Resilience in midwifery. Worcester University Midwifery Society Conference, 25th Jan 2018

Keynote Speaker: ‘That’s what keeps me in midwifery’: Resilience and sustainability in maternity care. Maternity and Midwifery Festival 2018, Cardiff, Cardiff City Stadium. 20th September 2018

Honorary Chair Lecture: Midwifery – a resilient profession? Nottingham University 7th Nov 2018

Honorary Chair Masterclass: Strengthening midwifery in the European Region, Nottingham University 7th Nov 2018

Guest Speaker: Refecting on emotions and resilience in midwifery. University of Edinburgh, School of Health in Social Science Emotions Seminar Series , June 22nd 2016

Invited Keynote speaker: Improving the quality of care for women and babies – the importance of midwifery research. University of Cambridge Research Conference and Showcase 28th April 2016

Invited Speaker: Exploring the public health component of maternity care in England. Session: Reclaiming public health: The new model of public health for midwifery. RCM Conference 2015, The International Centre, Telford, Shropshire 10 - 11 November 2015

Invited Speaker: Research Masterclass: Ten Top Tips for Applying for Funding. RCM Conference 2015, The International Centre, Telford, Shropshire 10 - 11 November 2015

Invited speaker: WHO Collaborating Centre for Midwifery Update. RCM International Day of the Midwife Spring Conference, Hilton Hotel Cardiff 30th April 2015

Invited seminar speaker: What does resilience mean for healthcare professionals? Insights from UK midwives. Middx University Seminar series May 7th 2015

Invited Keynote speaker: Thriving not surviving: Nurturing Resilience in the NHS Workforce. CNO for Wales 2015 Showcase Conference, Cardiff 13th May 2015

Invited Keynote Speaker: Building Professional Resilience. All Wales Student Midwife Conference, University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff. 29th May 2015

Invited Keynote Speaker: Nurturing Resilience in Future Midwives: Challenges and Opportunities. Innovation in Midwifery Education Conference, Bournemouth University. 3rd July 2015

Committees and reviewing

I contribute to the work of a range of international and national committees:

International appointments:

  • Co-chair for WHO Midwifery Network, Global Network for WHO Nursing and Midwifery Collaborating Centres, John Hopkins University Baltimore USA
  • Invited Technical Advisory Group Member, World Health Organisation:
  • Sustaining midwifery education during the COVID-19 pandemic, December 2020 (ongoing). Membership of Project Technical Advisory Group and contribution of case study and resources
  • Inter-Professional Midwifery Education Toolkit for Maternal New-Born, Sexual Reproductive and Mental Health. Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, World Health Organisation. Essential Childbirth module Technical Advisory Group member. 2018-ongoing
  • Policy Research Midwifery Education: Developing the evidence base for global policy guidance on improving the quality of maternal and newborn care through strengthening midwifery skills. A rapid evidence synthesis for global policy guidance on midwifery skills education and training in low and middle income countries (LMICs) ( 2017-18)
  • Member of Scientific Advisory Committee - ORAMMA ( Operational Refugee and Migrant Maternal Approach) Large collaborative international study, funded by Health Programme of the European Union ( September 2017- ongoing)
  • Invited participant: Strengthening Quality Midwifery Education 2030. WHO HQ Geneva 21-22 March 2018
  • Sub-Editor and Editorial Board member, Women and Birth 
  • Advisory Group Member, International Confederation of Midwives Expert Advisory Group on Midwifery and Maternal Health Research (2002 – ongoing)
  • International Advisory Board: Midwifery – International Journal (2006 – ongoing)

UK appointments:

    • Trustee, Birth Partner Project, Cardiff (2020 - ongoing) Welsh charity providing labour and birth support for refugees and asylum seeking women.
    • Project Steering Committee, 'Strengthening Open Disclosure with Women and Families in NHS Maternity Care'. Kings College London (NIHR HS&DR, April 2019 - June 2021).
    • RCM Professorial Advisory Network (2020-ongoing)
    • Member, Scientific Advisory Board, The Chief Scientist Office Nursing Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit (2017-2020)
    • Member, Council of Deans for Heath Research Advisory Group ( 2016-2020)
    • Member, AUKUH NMAHPs Clinical Academic Careers Development Group (2016)
    • Member RCM Global Advisory Group ( 2016 – 2020)
    • Member, RCM Advisory Forum 
    • REF 2014 Appointment: Member of Sub-panel 3: Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, representing midwifery research.
    • Member, Wellbeing of Women Research Advisory Committee ( June 2012- 2015)
    • 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)

          Welsh appointments:

          • Strategic Think Tank Member, Welsh Maternity Strategy (March 2018 - ongoing) RCM Wales/Welsh Government
          • Founder (2005) and Chair (Oct 2005 – Nov 2010)/ Vice Chair (2010 – 2012) All Wales Midwifery and Reproductive Health Research Forum

          Reviewing: I regularly referee for a number of grant awarding bodies including:

          • NIHR - National Institute for Health Research (e.g. NIHR HTA, (NIHR RfPB)
          • Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Wellbeing of Women Research Grants and Training Fellowships
          • Department of Health
          • Economic and Social Research Council
          • Health Foundation

          Referee (journals):

          I regularly peer review papers, including for the following journals:

          • Midwifery
          • BMJ Quality & Safety
          • Sociology of Health and Illness
          • Women and Birth
          • International Journal of Nursing Studies
          • Social Theory and Health
          • Social History of Medicine

























          I teach across undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, in particular contributing to sessions relating to the history of midwifery and maternity care, and emotional wellbeing.

          Research Interests

          My main research interests focus on the culture of midwifery and maternity care, how this has changed over time and how it influences workforce and user experiences. I am particularly interested in investigating emotions, emotional support and relationships within maternity care, and how these may affect intra- and inter-professional working and communication. I am keen to find ways to use this research to better support midwives in practice, in order to improve quality of care for women and their newborns and families.

          Research Grants:

          £895,187.06 NIHR Health Technology Assessment The POOL Study. Establishing the safety of waterbirth for mothers and babies: A cohort study with nested qualitative component. 01 Apr 2018 to 31 Aug 2021 (41 Months) (CI Prof Julia Sanders; Qualitative Co- Lead Billie Hunter)

          £14,000 Royal College of Midwives UK WHELM study: Midwives’ health and emotional wellbeing in the workplace. January –July 2017 ( PI Billie Hunter with Dr Josie Henley, Louise Silverton, and Prof Jen Fenwick and Dr Mary Sidebotham – Griffith University Brisbane)

          £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.


          Current PhD student topics:

          • Halima Abdul Nigerian Midwives’ Experiences of Workplace Resilience (first supervisor) Awarded a College of Biomedical and Life Sciences International PhD Scholarship ( submitted June 2021)
          • Suzanne Hardacre The experience of pregnant women being offered influenza vaccination by a midwife, a qualitative descriptive approach ( Prof Doc)

          Past projects

          PhDs Awarded:

          • 2009 Accomplishing being ordinary: identity talk of people conditionally discharged from secure forensic settings. Michael Coffey. Swansea University (second supervisor)
          • 2013 Eryl Zac Maunder The Emotion Work Experiences of Children's Nurses Caring For Life Limited Children and Young People from a Community and Children's Hospice Perspective. Swansea University (first supervisor)
          • 2013 Lucie Warren Managing weight gain in pregnancy: women’s experience and clinical practice. Swansea University. Full-time RCBC PhD Studentship (second supervisor).
          • 2015 Mandayachepa Nyando The experiences of care givers of HIV and AIDS children in Malawi. Cardiff University, full time student (second supervisor)
          • July 2015 Marie Lewis. Exploration of the concept of trust within the midwife-mother relationship. Cardiff University, part-time student (first supervisor).
          • December 2015 Areej Haitem - Postpartum women's health: Saudi women's perspectives, full time student. cardiff University (second supervisor)
          • October 2016 Laura Goodwin - The Midwife-Woman relationship in a South Wales community: A focused ethnography of the experiences of midwives and migrant Pakistani women during early pregnancy. Full time student (first supervisor)
          • Nasiha Al-Braiki – Professional attitudes to neonatal pain management in Oman, full time student (first supervisor).
          • Tina Dennis – Professional Doctorate

          I am a very experienced PhD examiner, and have examined over 30 PhDs /Professional Doctorates both within the UK and internationally.