Published on: 20 December 2021
A midwife, who started her career in South Tyneside, has returned to where she first began to welcome babies into the world - and twice became a mother herself - to take up a top maternity role.
Michelle Watson recently started her new role as Head of Midwifery at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust and is part of the team which will lead the ongoing development of local maternity services.
She is responsible for midwifery care including the midwifery-led birthing centre at South Tyneside District Hospital, the consultant-led maternity unit at Sunderland Royal Hospital as well as teams of community midwives who support local women during their pregnancies.
The appointment sees Michelle return to the area where was supported through her early days as a student midwife at South Tyneside District Hospital as she started her training in 1999, setting out on an 18 month post graduate midwifery programme having already qualified as a general nurse.
Michelle gave birth to both of her children at the hospital and was supported through her first delivery by Melanie Booth and given post-natal care by Jacqui Ramshaw, who now heads up the midwifery-led birthing centre in South Tyneside.
Both acted as her mentors during different stages of her training.
She has now returned to the Trust to take up the top role, a move warmly welcomed by colleagues old and new. In her new role Michelle will work with the Trust’s hospital based maternity team, as well as those who work out in the community.
Michelle said: “I’m extremely proud to be joining such an excellent maternity service, which is so often rated highly by local mams and their families. I have a fond affiliation with the Trust, having started my midwifery career at South Tyneside District Hospital all those years ago. This is where my passion for midwifery started and I am so excited to work with the fantastic team and build on the excellent work that they do.
“For me this is about giving families the best experience, choice about where and how they have their baby and a seamless service which spans across all areas of their pregnancy and birth. I am genuinely thrilled to have this opportunity and would like to thank the team and the Trust for making me feel so welcome.
“It feels a bit surreal to come back to South Tyneside knowing I’ve trained and given birth here, but I am genuinely excited to get stuck in and to meet the many local families who use of our services.”
Michelle’s appointment has been welcomed by colleagues Melanie Booth and Jacqui Ramshaw who supported her when she had her first child all those years ago.
Melanie, who is part of the midwifery-led birthing centre team, said: “It’s great to have Michelle back. She’s worked hard to make her way through the ranks and has lots of valuable experience - that’s what we want from a Head of Midwifery - and she’s learned from the best.”
Senior Midwife Jacqui, who manages the midwifery-led birthing centre, added: “We are delighted to have Michelle back here, both on a personal level, but also on a professional level to have her work with us again. Everyone is thrilled.”
Melanie Johnson, Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals at the Trust, said: “Michelle is a fantastic addition to our Midwifery Team and I have no doubt that she will play an important role in work that we are doing to further develop local maternity services across South Tyneside and Sunderland. Our team works hard to make each individual family’s pregnancy and birth journey as special and personal as possible.”
After qualifying, Michelle went on to work for Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and then moved to Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in 2014, where she last worked as a maternity matron.
Michelle comes to the role following the retirement of former Head of Midwifery Sheila Ford, who spent 20 years in the job before she retired in October.
For more information about Trust’s maternity services visit: https://www.stsft.nhs.uk/services/maternity