Janet Hirst

Janet Hirst


Janet is Head of the School of Healthcare at the University of Leeds and an Associate Professor in Maternal Care.  Janet has a strong sense of equality and inclusion and in particular, working on better career pathways for all. She is aspirational for the School of Healthcare as it transforms from educationally intensive to a research-led educational academic environment. She has a background in nursing, midwifery and an applied health research grounding having held posts within the NHS, academic research units and higher education. Her research, scholarship, PhD supervision and educational activities centre on explorations of maternity services and the quality of maternity care nationally, in Europe and Indonesia. Janet also has a track record in developing research capacity amongst undergraduate and postgraduate students having led the implementation of research led curricular and new roles and pathways into clinical academic careers.

Janet’s career began as a clinical nurse followed by midwifery at Bradford NHS in the UK. She joined the University of Leeds as a Research Fellow in 1992 to undertake research into patterns of maternity care and their clinical consequences. Janet became a Lecturer in Midwifery in 1997 and obtained her PhD in 1999 studying the quality of maternity services for Pakistani and indigenous white women. Janet has held a special interest in psychosocial aspects of maternity services e.g. women, their partners and healthcare professionals’ views and attitudes towards the quality of maternity care and their journey through pregnancy and childbirth.

These interests shaped both undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and PhD supervision. She has collaborated with colleagues nationally and Internationally to undertake research, scholarship and develop educational standards. Janet has held a number of senior leadership roles at the University of Leeds:

Academic Unit Head for Psychosocial Science 2010-2012

Academic Unit Director (AUD) for Midwifery, Social Work, Pharmacy and Counselling and Psychotherapy  2012-2017

Deputy Head of School during 2017 and Head of School from January 2018.


  • Head of School of Healthcare

Research interests

As a researcher, I have a special interest in maternity services and quality of care. I have collaborated with colleagues across the university, and more widely to deliver research, scholarship and inform educational. I supervise Masters and PhD students studying maternity services and maternal experiences, nationally and internationally. Since 2010 my role has focused on academic leadership and education. 

Funding for Research:

Hirst J. Hewison J. Collaborative European research development: comparison of prenatal screening uptake. A pump-priming award from School of Healthcare, UoL, £1750. Output: journal paper Crombag et al 2014

2010:    Hirst, J. Jackson, C. Knapp, P Bharj, K. Wright, G. Exploring the feasibility of processes and data collection tools in preparation for the re-submission of a proposal to NIHR Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB). Pump-priming award from School of Healthcare, University of Leeds. £2494.  Output: conference poster presentation Hirst et al 2011a, 2011b.

2009:    Hirst J. Bryant L. Hewison J. Potrata B. Understanding regional variation in antenatal screening. Pump-priming award from Society for Reproductive and Infant Psychology and Leeds Clinical Genetics. £2000. Output: conference presentation Hirst et al 2010 & report Hirst et al 2010.

1999:    Khan, M. Green, J. Hirst, J. Evaluation of a postnatal listening service for Pakistani, Bengali and Chinese women. Period:- June 1999 – Feb 2002, £115, 928 National Lottery Charities Board. Output: conference presentation Green et al 2004a and 2004b; book chapter Hirst et al 2007 & report Hirst et al 2002.

1999:    Mackay, L. Bharj, K. Cortis, J. Green, J. Hirst, J. Raynor, T. Rinomhota, S. Sharkey, C. ‘Adult healthcare users whose first language is not English: Overcoming Barriers and Enhancing Communication’. Period:- March 1999- Feb.2002. Amount:- £98,000, University of Leeds, School of Healthcare Studies Research Development Grant. Output: report and book, Robinson, M. Overcoming Barriers and Enhancing Communication Research Project (OBEC) at the School of Healthcare Studies, University of Leeds.

1996:    Hewison J. Renfrew M.J. Young G. Braunholtz D. Dowswell T. Hirst J. Ross-McGill H.  An evaluation of different models of maternity care:- An evaluation of the roles of primary health care workers. Period:- October 1996 - April 1999. £238,617, NHS Executive Mother and Child Health Programme. Output: report Hewison et al 2000.

1996:    Hewison J. Brunskill P. Thornton J.G. Dowswell T. Hirst J. 'Home blood pressure recording in pregnancy: a pilot study for a randomised control trial'. Period:- May 1996 - November 1997. £35,101, Joint MRC and Northern and Yorkshire Regional Health Authority. Output: journal paper Ross-McGill et al 2000.

1995:    Hewison J. Dowswell T. Leach J. Collaborators:- Hirst J, Holt A. 'Explaining consumer preferences for staff providing maternity care'.  £49,106, Northern and Yorkshire Regional Health Authority.Output: book chapter Hirst et al 1998.

1994:    Hirst J. and Hewison J. 'Assessing the quality of the maternity services for Pakistani women and indigenous white women'. Period:- September 1994-December 1996. £79,000, Northern and Yorkshire Regional Health Authority. Output: book chapter Hirst & Hewison 2005; journal papers Hirst & Hewison 2001 & 2002; PhD Hirst 1999, conferences presentation Hirst & Hewison 1998 & report Hirst et al 1998.




  • PhD Maternity Services Research
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education
  • MSc in Nursing Studies
  • Registered Midwife
  • Registered General Nurse

Professional memberships

  • Nursing and Midwifery Council: Midwife

Student education

As a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (UK) I am committed to improving my skills to foster and facilitate student learning. I am particularly interested in exploring what it is like for people to receive healthcare and what it is like for individuals (students and registrants) to learn how to provide care and transform into a registrant providing care in, what tends to be, complex and emotionally heightened environments. I led and contributed to teams to secure external funding for a number of accredited and professional programmes e.g. MSc Clinical Research Methods, as part of the Higher Education England/ National Institute for Health Research clinical academic training programme. 

 I am an experienced module leader, clinical liaison lecturer, lecturer and personal tutor at undergraduate level. I am also an experienced programme leader for postgraduate programmes (formally Master of Midwifery; MSc Clinical Research Methods). At postgraduate level, I have taught a range of healthcare professionals.


Care of the critically ill woman in childbirth; enhanced maternal care. This inter-collegiate work developed standards for healthcare professionals.

I have collaborated with colleagues over a number of years to develop education and securing external funding:

Funding for Educational Development:

2015:    Hirst, J. Nelson, A, Bharj, K.K. Owens, D. Bewick. B. A competitive tender to HEE/NIHR to design, manage and deliver a Masters in Clinical Research Methods. Awarded £1.66 million by HEE/NIHR Integrated Clinical Academic Programme.

2012:    Dowding, D. Hirst, J. Astin, F. Owens, D. Bewick. B. A competitive tender to NIHR educational to design, manage and deliver a Masters in Clinical Research Methods. Awarded £1.9 million by NIHR.

2012:    Hirst, J. Scarfe, J. I led the development of a service-level agreement (guided by Dr H Smith) between the University of Leeds, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trusts and The Hospital Authority of Hong Kong to deliver a 4 week non-credit bearing programme for 8 visiting midwifery lecturers. The programme focused on complex care for ill women during pregnancy. Income £21,510

2010:    Hill, F. Roberts, T. Timm A. Collaborators: Dubras, L. Hirst, J. Lathlean, J. Lutman, M. Marshall, P.Owens, K. Thyer. Beyond competence: enabling and inspiring healthcare students to engage confidently with the transition from classroom to workplace. Awarded £199,595. National Teaching Fellowship Scheme; The Higher Education Academy.

2005: Chu, C. Atkin, K. Hirst, J. Sheridan, E. Barth, J. Wilcox, M, McKibbin, M.Henderson, M. ‘Top up Training Screening Course for Public Health Consultants’. Awarded: £70,000. Funding Organisation: Yorkshire & Humber Strategic Health Authority. To design, manage and deliver top-up training.

2003:     Chu, C. Sheridan, E.  Atkin, K. Evans A, Hewison, J. Hirst, J. Mason, G. Karbani, G. Kinsey, S.McMain, S. S ‘Multidisciplinary training of health professionals in haemoglobinopathies’. Awarded: £70,000. Funding organisation: NHS Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Screening Programme.

Research groups and institutes

  • Maternal, child and family health
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://medicinehealth.leeds.ac.uk/research-opportunities">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>