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Photography by Yasmin Carter

Former Consultant Midwife Faye Macrory MBE is a pioneer in midwifery care, who has been prepared to challenge and change attitudes to ensure a better deal for women with substance misuse problems. She was the first consultant midwife in the region to specialise in treating mothers with drug problems and helped lead a scheme to test pregnant women for HIV. Early detection can prevent the baby from contracting the disease.

Her work has helped turn around the way these women are treated across the maternity hospitals in Manchester. Faye became a substance misuse liaison midwife in 1995. She was responsible for managing and strategically developing the service for substance dependent women the city of Manchester. This model of care is now standard practice in many maternity services throughout the UK.

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Faye outside the Zion Community Resource Centre in Hulme the base for the city's Specialist Midwifery Services between 1992 - 2015

Her work has helped turn around the way these women are treated across the maternity hospitals in Manchester. Faye became a substance misuse liaison midwife in 1995. She was responsible for managing and strategically developing the service for substance dependent women the city of Manchester. This model of care is now standard practice in many maternity services throughout the UK.


Faye and her specialist midwifery team were based at the Zion Community Resource Centre in Hulme from 1992 – 2015. She is also directly responsible for developing other services for pregnant women including perinatal mental health; domestic abuse/violence; sex workers; sexual abuse/exploitation and latterly FGM.


Faye received an Outstanding Achiever Award at a health awards ceremony in 2004 for her work with pregnant drug addicts. In …. she received an MBE for her services to……

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THE SHOOT: The Zion Community Resource Centre, Hulme

The former base of Manchester's Specialist Midwifery Service

Q & A with Faye Macrory

Q: Where and when were you born?

A: I was born in Bangor, County Down in 1955.


Q: When did you leave Northern Island to start your career in nursing?

A: I came to Sheffield at the age of nearly 21 and trained as a nurse for three years. I then moved to Manchester to study midwifery at the old St Mary’s, although I was at that time more interested in mental health. I moved there with my partner at the time, but my sister already lived in Manchester. I qualified in 1982 and worked on delivery before moving out Saudi Arabia for four years as a midwife. The money was good, it was around a £1000 in your hand every month. I came back from Saudi Arabia in April 1987 because I decided to buy a house. I secured a job at Withington Hospital and then returned briefly to Saudi to work my notice, leaving my sister - who was doing a masters degree while looking after a 4-year-old and working at the time - to sort out my new house and its cowboy solicitor… she’s never forgiven me.

Q: Now that you were back in Manchester, what were your career ambitions?

A: I started at Withington Hospital in the September of 1987, but thought, this is not enough for me. I left the following summer to start a degree in psychology at Manchester University, whilst doing nights as a locum to pay the mortgage. A friend of mine was Head of Midwifery and so began work as a midwife again in 1992.


Q: At what point did you start to consider the needs of complex women?

A: Long before I came back from Saudi, I read the book ‘The End of Innocence’ by Simon Garfield about the emergence of HIV and I thought that this was going to hit maternity, so when I was back at St Mary’s, I started to work as a volunteer on Manchester Action on Street Health (MASH) which is still going strong today. We roamed around the streets handing out needles and condoms to women who were heavy drug and alcohol users. but as a midwife or a nurse I couldn’t do any hands-on care because of my code of conduct. Myself and a group of colleagues then tried put together a bid for a HIV charity which fell on deaf ears, so we put together a business case for a drug liaison post, which took several years. Also, at that time I managed to get a grant from Cow and Gate Milk for around £600 to go to Leeds to do an HIV counselling course. But of course you wouldn’t be allowed to do that now.

Q: What were people’s attitudes towards vulnerable women trying to access maternity services like around this time?

A: In those days when women with substance misuse problems arrived in labour, that would be the first time we had really seen them. Basically, when they came to the hospital they were treated really badly, their babies were taken to special care and never seen again and social services were automatically involved. I worked for six years in the HIV clinic as a councillor alongside my work as a midwife. It was 1995, the peak of HIV and maternity weren’t interested; they didn’t care about the women. I did a lot of teaching and training to get these needs on the map and at a large conference I was asked; How do I measure my outcomes? And I said, “When I see the women down on the beat and they say to me, when we go into the hospital, they don’t treat us like shit anymore... that’s a good outcome!” It was a real challenge, people’s attitudes at that time were just awful. On one occasion, one of the women came in to have a baby knowing that it would be taken away, a midwife who prided herself as being quite radical said to me; “You know Faye, I’m not judgmental… but that woman is riff-raff” … sadly that woman took her own life.

Q: How did your association with the Zion Community Resource Centre come about?

A: When I got the drug liaison midwife post, I was based in the drug service until 2001. I covered the whole city; it was the first jointly funded post in the UK and it just grew and grew. I became a Consultant Midwife in 2001 when the Tony Blair government announced that they would create consultant midwife and health visitor roles. The job I was doing already covered many of the met needs and so automatically fit a consultants’ role perfectly. I was based in two rooms at the back of the old Zion Centre in Hulme. I would see pregnant women down there who did not want to use the hospital, because of the way they were greeted and they also knew that social services would get involved. We were at this time working very hard on HIV and ran a needle exchange drop in. The Zion Centre was not just used by pregnant women it was there for anyone ostracised by society.

I couldn’t have done my job without the backing of Zion Centre manager Fay Selvan. I started working with Fay in 1992 and we got the funding for the drug liaison post in 1995. It’s routine now for maternity hospitals to have a specialist midwife but at the time my job was unique. The work just exploded… I had over 150 women on my caseload, not just drug use on its own, there was also domestic violence and a lot of safe-guarding issues. I didn’t wear a uniform in my role and at that time had to be very frank with the women, I used to say; “We have a range of choices here, none of them are great, but some are better than others, so make a list of what we can do for you.”

Shortly after my appointment as Consultant Midwife in 2001, I was away from work for 18 months battling cancer and when I returned my team numbered seven and we covered all the city’s three maternity hospitals. I had a big strategic role and did a lot of work with the Department of Health around this time and would travel to different areas of the country to talk and advise about how to develop services and joined up working.

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Q: Can you describe the chain of events which led to you leaving the Health Service?

A: In 2015 we moved back to St Mary’s as a result of a funding shake up, my team was reduced and much of my energy was taken up ensuring that our employing organisation could still actually support the women coming through. At the time I was developing the perinatal mental health clinic and was lead for domestic abuse over the whole organisation. The team were squashed into St Mary’s, and then they came for me… which I knew they would. The whole process of me leaving was very acrimonious. I was told that, “St Mary’s no longer want somebody who has a national profile and no longer want someone who is strategic, they want someone who is inward looking towards the organisation”. Despite me developing all the clinics… that they never had to pay for.

I was a wreck and I was ready to go to court. I’d stopped wearing lipstick, so people must have known there was something wrong. Then there was the realisation that I didn’t want to work for an organisation that treats you like this. We then got a new Head of HR who took over the case. She carefully read up on my career and along with senior managers, collectively they agreed to all my redundancy demands. I left just before Christmas.


Q: Did you consider consultancy work?

A: I had lots of offers flooding in from the university and other organisations, I did a couple of things, but how could I stand up and wax lyrical about the NHS and midwifery when I’d had the stuffing knocked out of me. I had so many job offers but I just couldn’t do it… I still couldn’t do it now.


Q: When you look back on your career in the Health Service… what is your greatest achievement?


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Related links:

Student reflection: Yasmin Carter


Over the last few years, I have done a number of shoots for Greater Mancunians and each one is unique. Photographing Faye was an absolute privilege and incredible fun. She turned up in a leather jacket, sunglasses, red lipstick and boots which just seems to reflect her outgoing personality.

We did all of the photography in and around the Zion Centre and it was a bright day so the light was ideal. Faye was open to suggestions for locations and poses. Faye gave us a a tour of the building where she bumped into old friends and work colleagues who greeted her such love and affection. We move from inside of the building to the centre’s beautifully kept and peaceful garden where the light was amazing. The colour and greenery made a fantastic backdrop for portraiture helping to emphasise Faye’s dress and her facial features.

During the shoot I took the opportunity to chat to Faye about her work and I can honestly say that she is one of the most inspirational women I have ever met. It is easy to see how she has inspired so many others. I am incredibly pleased with my final images, they really do capture Faye’s effervescent personality.

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Yasmin & Faye

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