Sarah Potter – Senior Research Midwife

Startling figures show that one in 10 mums-to-be in Sandwell and West Birmingham smoke during their pregnancy.

But midwife Sarah Potter is hoping a new study will help these women quit the habit.

The senior researcher, at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals Trust, is recruiting into the PREP (Pregnancy Trial of E-cigarettes and Patches) study, which looks into whether using these alternative forms will help expectant mums quit or reduce smoking.

“It’s a very important study,” explained Sarah. “The outcome will help us to identify efficient ways to tackle smoking in pregnancy and help improve the wellbeing of mothers and their babies.”

She added: “We know that smoking during pregnancy can cause a number of problems for the babies, such as miscarriage, stillbirth and cot death. Therefore, when this study was introduced, my team didn’t hesitate to join it.”

As well as taking part in the national study, Sarah and her team also play an important role in recruiting patients for research in Ophthalmology and Rheumatology – so it’s no surprise to learn that Sarah’s schedule is quite busy.

She said: “I’m lucky that my job is so varied. I get to meet different people to discuss projects and I can then explain to patients the research that we are carrying out and how they can contribute if they want to.

“No two days are the same for me and I absolutely enjoy it. I truly believe that research is the way forward in making a difference to the way patients are treated.

“I’m really proud of my team as they have been doing so well in promoting the work that we are doing. We recently organised lots of activity around International Clinical Trials Day to raise public awareness of Research and Development (R&D) at our Trust. It was a great day and we received many questions from the public and staff about how they can contribute more to R&D.

“Our organisation recruited nearly 3,000 people last year to many national and local studies and that’s such a huge achievement.”

Sarah has been a research midwife for four years and has made a great difference in helping the organisation promote R&D. Her role started off as a secondment.

She said: “After being part of many studies, I can see first-hand how research makes such a difference to the mothers and babies that we look after on such a large scale.

“Outcomes from some of the studies that we have carried out have led us to change the way we care for mothers and babies on our neonatal wards, so they can have a better experience while staying with us.

“I decided to apply for a permanent role to become a research midwife, so not only I could make a difference to the patients that we look after at our Trust, but also to thousands across the country.”

So what is Sarah’s next challenge?
“We are going to open the first Research and Development facility at Sandwell Hospital soon and that will be an important milestone for us,” she said. “The facility will be a hub where all the research activities are carried out. It will really help us to contribute more to the way we care for our patients.”

Modest Sarah was quick to name her colleagues as her heroes: “I admire all the front line NHS staff as they are the back bone of the whole system. They are the ones that make sure everything happens and they always go the extra mile to look after patients. They are my NHS Heroes.”