Janet Hirst

Janet Hirst


I am Professor of Maternal Health Care. I have a strong sense of purpose, values and goals shaped by an underpinning career in the NHS and a career in higher education applied to healthcare.

I was a registered nurse, I am a registered midwife, an academic leader and a Non-Executive Director at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

I collaborate with universities and associated bodies, the NHS, local authorities, national regulators and international organisations to be able to advise guide teams to lead, manage and deliver professional educational programmes and applied health research.

I have a strong sense of equality and inclusion through which I aspire to deliver compassionate leadership and assure a safe and healthy environment for colleagues to work.  I am immensely proud of the people I work with and the University’s alumni.



  • Professor of Maternal Health Care

Research interests

My academic career commenced with applied health research and scholarship before moving into an educational role. My scholarship and PhD supervision centre on evaluations of maternity services and the quality of maternity care, both nationally and internationally.  

My educational passion focussed on developing research capacity amongst undergraduate and postgraduate healthcare professionals to enable continuous improvement in service delivery. 

In research, different social and cultural settings have been explored, as well as different healthcare systems, for example the UK, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.  All of these elements shape experiences and perceptions of the quality of care, as perceived by those who receive care and of those who provide care.

Consequently, findings have informed policy, practice and education in respective locations. Methods of inquiry have included case studies, evaluations using qualitative techniques, mixed methods or multi-methods.

PhD studies include:

  • healthcare professionals’ assessment of pregnant women’s psychological health in Indonesia; 
  • evaluations of the quality of maternity care in Iran;
  • Indonesian adolescents’ experiences of pregnancy and early parenthood;
  • attitudes towards prenatal screening for downs syndrome,
  • an exploration of how simulation helps healthcare professionals prepare for rare,
  • critical events during childbearing;
  • women’s experiences when their infant is admitted to hospital with hypernatremia.   

Previous and past 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.

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://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>