Middlesex academic wins prestigious Mary Seacole Award

30/10/2018
A first for Middlesex – one of the University’s academics wins a Mary Seacole Award

Sarah with her leadership team Dr Sinead Mehigan (far left) and Fiona Suthers (left) and James Kennedy, Middlesex's Chief Financial Officer (right)

Middlesex University academic Sarah Chitongo is one of just six people in the UK to win a 2018 Mary Seacole Award.

Sarah trained at Middlesex 18 years ago and is now a Midwifery Educator and Manager of the Clinical Skills Department. She is the only midwife amongst the six winners to receive the Award. Her project looks at experiences of midwives in caring for women from Black Asian Ethnic Minority (BAME) groups on delivery suite high dependency units within London hospitals.

Commenting on her research, Sarah said  “I want to examine the experiences of midwives caring for BAME high dependency patients and understand and address concerns raised in order to improve provision of safe, equitable maternity services. This is a huge honour and a pivotal moment in my career. Mary Seacole’s legacy seeks to tackle inequalities in healthcare. Mary Seacole cast the seeds of diversity in healthcare and it’s a great honour to contribute to this legacy.”

After completing her year-long research, Sarah hopes to broaden the project and apply her findings to improve BAME patients’ experiences at a national level. She will be working closely with the Department of Health, NHS Improvement Centre, Kings Fund and the Chief Nurse of England. She will also be visiting the Prime Minister later this year.

"This is a huge honour and a pivotal moment in my career. Mary Seacole’s legacy seeks to tackle inequalities in healthcare. Mary Seacole cast the seeds of diversity in healthcare and it’s a great honour to contribute to this legacy.” Sarah Chitongo

The Mary Seacole Awards were created in honour of Mary Seacole, the Jamaican/Scottish nurse born in 1805 celebrated for her bravery in nursing soldiers during the Crimean war from 1853-6, and also for her use of herbal remedies to relieve the symptoms of illnesses such as cholera in Jamaica and Panama. The awards are funded by Health Education England and are awarded in association with Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Nursing, UNISON and Unite with support from NHS Employers.

The Awards recognise outstanding work that benefits the BAME (Black Asian and Minority Ethnic) community. Only a handful of researchers are chosen to receive the Award along with up to £12,500 that goes towards enhancing their communication and leadership skills.

Sarah gave thanks to her leadership team at Middlesex University - Fiona Suthers, Sinead Mehigan, Jan Williams, Professor Helen Allan, Georgina Cox, Clare Maher and Professor Margaret Volante - for the immense support they have given in this project.

Commenting on Sarah’s achievement, Fiona Suthers, Head of Clinical Skills Department said:

“This Award is so very well deserved by Sarah. Her research will play a vital role in improving the provision of safe maternity services for women from BAME communities.

“The Department and Middlesex University are extremely proud of what Sarah has achieved.”

Click here to find out more about midwifery courses at Middlesex.

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