THE South Wales Argus Health and Care Awards will celebrate the work of health and care professionals from across the region.

One of the areas which has a huge impact on the sector is research. The Research Impact Award, sponsored by Health and Care Research Wales, recognises work that has made a real difference to people’s lives.

Emma Mills from Abergavenny works across Nevill Hall hospital, Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr and the Royal Gwent Hospital as the technical research lead for midwifery.

The former community midwife moved into a leadership role two years ago and now manages studies across the three sites

She said: “I feel lucky because the things I’m passionate about are midwifery and research and this job combines both of them.”

One of the most recent studies is the Awareness of Fetal movements and Focussing Interventions Reduce fetal Mortality (AFFIRM) study will to see if rates of stillbirth may be reduced by introducing an interventional package of care.

Changes made to protocol during the study led to stillbirth rates dropping by between 25 per cent and 50 per cent in the first year compared to previous years.

Mrs Mills said:“The biggest motivation for me is making things better for the women who access the services and their families.

“The rate of stillbirth rate within the health board dropped by 25 per cent which is massive because we are not talking huge numbers. Our head of midwifery is fantastic and any studies I want to take on, if potentially it can save one baby’s life then that’s enough for her.”

“We have a study looking at how effective our testing is for predicting premature birth. There is one for ladies who have a suture in to stop them going into labour prematurely so they can carry their babies to term. I’m also doing a PHD in female genital mutilation which I do alongside the work.”

“I love my work and privileged to work for a health board that are so supportive.

“If we make one change that makes it better for people then it makes everything so worthwhile.”

In Thursday’s edition we will publish special awards supplement. Nominations can be made online at