Last month we were delighted to welcome Joanne Hargrave who joined East Genomic Medicine Service Alliance (GMSA) as Lead Midwife. We put some questions to Jo, and you can read her answers below...
Tell us a bit about yourself
I'm a midwife with over 17 years of experience mainly working in Trusts within the East of England and South London. For the past 6 years, I have been working as a specialist midwife supporting the implementation and embedding of Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) services for Trusts within South West England. Over the last 18 months, I have also been the Lead Midwife for the South East GMSA to promote the importance of genomics in nursing and midwifery services.
Can you tell us about your East GMSA role?
My focus for the East region - I'll be working for East GMSA Mondays and Wednesdays and continue to work for South East on Tuesdays and Thursdays - will be to link up with midwives working with patient to encourage them to consider genomics within their assessments of a pregnant person and extend that to considerations of the family.
This work will aim to collaborate with patient groups and midwives at different levels to identify gaps or needs to improve pathways with genomic elements. I also want to support and co-create new resources, tools and education to enhance the knowledge and confidence of midwives. Finally, I want to find out all the great work that is currently going on within this region that could be showcased.
What are some highlights from your career to date?
In recent years I have worked as a Rotational midwife (2005-2011), FMU and screening midwife (2012-2016), and NIPT specialist (2016-2023). I even managed to work in Australia for a short stint in 2012, so have a bit of an insight into how the NHS compares to other healthcare systems.
I'm proud of having developed two Massive Open Online Learning Resources for healthcare professionals:
What are you hoping to achieve in your new East GMSA role?
My main hope, and in fact priority for this role, is to develop a midwifery network across the region. I would like to link up with the midwifery workforce across the East, to understand what the knowledge and opportunities are, as well as the roles and responsibilities of midwives within the Trusts.
I also want to hear about the challenges and limitations within the local areas. Developing a network can support shared learning, provide up-to-date information, and ensure the voice of the workforce is recognised in regional and national projects and plans.
What would you say to any midwives reading?
If there are any midwives who would like to join my network, then please contact me! I can be contacted at Joanne.Hargrave@nnuh.nhs.uk
Midwives are involved in genomics every day and often they don't realise it! Every time you assess a woman, whether that be at the initial booking appointment, evaluating risk in day assessment or triage, caring for someone in the intrapartum or discussing the physical examination or newborn blood spots to parents, genomics should be considered. This is because they are vital to identifying, referring or testing and the earliest possible opportunity, to allow families to make the choices that are right for them.
I would ask all midwives to look at the Genomics Education website and see where genomics fits in with their role and if they want to know more or get involve with projects, then get in touch!
There are many levels of learning opportunities, from 30-minute bitesize resources all the way up to MSc in genomics.