Royal Call For Forth Valley Midwife

Call the midwife took on a whole new meaning for Gillian Morton when she received a letter confirming she was to be recognised in the 2020 Queen’s New Year’s Honours.

Gillian, NHS Forth Valley’s General Manager and Head of Midwifery, has been awarded an MBE for services to healthcare. After completing her general nurse training in 1981, Gillian’s first post was as a staff nurse in a medical ward at the former Falkirk & District Royal Infirmary. She then undertook her midwifery training in the maternity units of both the former Falkirk and Stirling Royal Infirmaries before qualifying as a midwife in 1986. This was followed with roles as Maternity Team Leader, Clinical Coordinator for Community Services and then Maternity Unit Nurse Manager. In 2003, Gillian completed further studies, including a BSc in Health Studies (midwifery) and a Masters of Business Administration, before she was appointed as General Manager and Head of Midwifery for both of the former maternity units in Stirling and Falkirk in 2003.

Throughout her career, Gillian has worked with frontline staff to take forward a wide range of service changes and improvements. This included the merger of two local maternity units, the development of a new Forth Valley wide system of team midwifery and the creation of a new Women and Children’s Unit at Forth Valley Royal Hospital.

In the last year Gillian, who lives in Larbert, has taken on a new role as Director for the NHS Forth Valley’s Elective Care Programme to increase theatre, diagnostic and inpatient capacity at Forth Valley Royal Hospital. She also has a significant leadership role, nationally and locally, in taking forward Best Start – the Scottish Government’s national plan for Maternity and Neonatal Care. NHS Forth Valley is one of the 5 Early Adopter Boards for Best Start and Gillian has led a small project team to deliver new ways of working which will offer greater continuity of care to women throughout their entire pregnancy. Gillian has supported local midwives to establish an Alongside Midwifery Unit within Forth Valley Royal Hospital which offers a greater choice for women on where to give birth and provides more comfortable, attractive and less clinical birthing rooms. She also oversaw the establishment of a Transitional Care service within the hospital which allows mothers of babies with additional care needs to remain together, without the need for admission to the Neonatal Unit. Since then, admissions to the Neonatal Unit have dropped by around 20%.

Gillian’s support, drive and enthusiasm have seen her and her team achieve many significant results and awards. Earlier in her career, as an RCM representative, Gillian helped negotiate a local pay deal which allowed midwives to work more flexibly without being disadvantaged financially. The Women and Children’s Unit at Forth Valley Royal Hospital won the British Journal of Midwifery Award for Excellence in Supervision in 2012 and the Royal College of Midwifery Award for Maternity Unit of the year in 2014. In addition, Gillian also set up a Sands Support Group in Falkirk along with a neonatal colleague to help support local families who had experienced a stillbirth or neonatal death.

Commented on her award Gillian said: “I was shocked to find out I’d been nominated for a New Year Honour and, while it is brilliant to be recognised in this way, any changes and improvements made would simply not have been possible without the hard work and support of local midwives and nurses, the management team, obstetricians and frontline support colleagues. This award is as much for the local team as it is for me personally.”