NHS England has appointed Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent as its first chief midwifery officer.
The appointment, which was announced today by NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens at the Chief Nursing Officer Summit, is the first of its kind.
Professor Dunkley-Bent’s new remit will consist in ensuring new and expectant mothers and their children receive better care.
In particular, she will be responsible for widening digital access to ‘red book’ medical records, to physiotherapy for mums recovering after labour and improved assistance for critically ill new-borns.
Professor Dunkley-Bent, who is expected to start her new role from 1 April, will become the most senior midwife in England.
She will contribute to the upcoming workforce implementation plan in collaboration with NHS chief nursing officer Ruth May, NHS chief people officer Prerana Issar and representatives from staff groups, such as the royal colleges and trade unions.
Professor Dunkley-Bent’s previously worked as a midwife and nurse. She currently is NHS England head of maternity, children and young people.
Announcing her appointment, Mr Stevens said: ‘The measures set out in the NHS long-term plan, from digital ‘red books’ to upgraded specialist perinatal mental health care, will mean new parents in England are among the most well-supported anywhere in the world.
‘Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent has the skill, experience and determination to deliver for new and expectant mums and their families.’
Commenting on her appointment, Professor Dunkley-Bent said: ‘I’m thrilled to be given the huge responsibility and privilege of serving families and my colleagues as England’s first chief midwifery officer.
‘Throughout my time as a midwife and nurse in our NHS, I’ve seen first-hand the life-changing difference that the care of midwives can make to children and parents, and as the health service sets out to deliver an ambitious programme to improve care and safety for mums-to-be and their babies, I cannot think of a more vital, exciting and inspiring responsibility.’