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Virtual world and hypnotherapy win midwives' praise

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Innovations such as the use of hypnotherapy and online virtual worlds during pregnancy and birth have won midwives national recognition.

Midwives from across the country were recognised for their excellence and innovative at the Royal College of Midwives annual awards in London on 25 January.

A University of Nottingham midwifery teacher won the Philips Avent Award for Innovation in Midwifery for incorporating “virtual learning” with Second Life, a social media virtual world where everyday life can be simulated.

The project developed “a virtual midwifery unit” where students can simulate aspects of learning and develop their communication skills.It  provided a safe forum for student midwives to discuss and question aspects of clinical practice without negative consequences for patients.

Jenny Bailey, a midwife teacher from Nottingham University’s academic division of midwifery, said: “Hopefully, the virtual maternity project will continue to go from strength to strength.”

Two NHS Ayrshire and Arran midwives, Donna Burns and Alison Fyfe, won the RCM’s Award for Promoting Normal Birth.

The award was given for the midwives having a novel approach to promoting normal birth using hypnotherapy to reduce anxiety.

Sue Hancock and Nicola MacPhail, both from Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, won the Pregnacare Award for Excellence in Initiatives in Improving Public Health and Reducing Health Inequalities for their work improving safeguarding practice in their maternity service. The project pioneers a public health approach to child protection issues.

Meanwhile, three University of Hertfordshire midwifery lecturers – Francesca Entwistle, Denise Campbell and Sally Boyle – won the Johnson’s Baby Award for Excellence in Midwifery Education  for  their  work  with  the country’s  first work-based (distance learning) shortened midwifery programme.  

For the project, students spend 60% of their time in clinical practice and 40% of their time studying; learning is primarily via an e-learning “virtual learning” environment.

RCM chief executive Cathy Warwick said: “It is important for people to know that midwifery does not stand still. When midwives are given the resources, support and freedom to develop their work, the result is better services, better care and better outcomes for mothers, babies and their families.”

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