DR JACQUE GERRARDMSc, RGN, RM
RCM Director for England
Royal College of Midwives- England
The award winning Deaf Nest project is a unique example of best practice in how to break down the barriers that exist in the NHS for pregnant deaf women.
Jacque Gerrard is the RCM Director for England. Jacque qualified as a registered nurse in Glasgow in 1981 and moved to Yorkshire soon after to start married life. She qualified in 1983 as a Midwife at Bradford Hospitals NHSFT. In 1991 Jacque graduated with her MSc in Nursing studies at the University of Bradford. In 1995 Jacque took some time out to care for her twin sons and do her “apprenticeship” in Motherhood! She then went on to become the Head of Midwifery in Leeds Infirmary and two other large Trusts in the North of England including Bradford Hospitals NHSFT and also Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS FT. In August 2008 Jacque left the NHS to further widen her Horizons’ and contribute to influencing the National Maternity picture by being appointed as the Director for the RCM in England. Jacque represents the RCM on a number of Regional and National Forums where she inputs and influences the National Maternity agenda and policy development on behalf of the RCM. Part of the job involves traveling across the four corners of England to meet midwives, student midwives and support staff who provide care to women and their families. Jacque engages with the wider NHS including Heads of midwifery services, HEE,PHE,DH and NHSE as well as working with other Royal colleges and key stakeholders including women`s groups.
Jacque particularly enjoys time spent with student midwives providing honorary teaching sessions in some of the HEIs including, Bradford, Leeds, Salford, Edge Hill and University of Hertfordshire discussing policy, politics and safe high quality maternity care. More recently Jacque has become involved in the RCM international and Global strategy and leads on the RCM Cambodian/ England Global Midwifery Twinning Project where the RCM has twinned with the Cambodian Midwives Association. Jacque was awarded an honorary degree (Doctor of the University) by the University of Bradford on 16 July 2014 which Jacque was delighted to accept.
I am delighted and honoured to be a Deaf Nest ambassador.
I am delighted and honoured to be a Deaf Nest ambassador. I first met Paulina and heard of the project in 2013 at the Royal College of Midwives Annual Awards judging event . I was astonished at the work that Paulina had embarked on whilst studying and carrying out her clinical midwifery duties as a student midwife. I learned about the impact of hearing loss on deaf parents and that babies born with deafness is a major public health concern which affects around 10 million people in the UK. Within the space of half an hour and listening to Paulina`s presentation, I was immersed in the world of deafness. I learned how this impacts on deaf pregnant women and the challenges and barriers that they have to overcome to access maternity and midwifery care.
Paulina`s very powerful presentation highlighted that accessing healthcare and maternity care for this group of vulnerable women is currently not a priority in the NHS. I suddenly realised the size of the problem and how important this PH issue is for deaf women in the UK and the impact on health outcomes for babies born to deaf parents. I have been in the midwifery profession for over thirty years not knowing nor understanding that women with hearing and deaf issues have had so many challenges accessing maternity care. I have since taken a huge professional interest in the work that Deaf Nest is doing. As an ambassador, I will make every effort to promote and support the award winning the Deaf Nest project as I am keen to help Paulina in her quest to bring this to the attention of commissioners and healthcare providers. By improving access for deaf women, perhaps health outcomes and health benefits will be realised and services for pregnant and deaf women will eventually be integrated into main stream maternity service.