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Royal College of Midwives worried about proposed changes to NMC legal framework

College is concerned that plans will dilute the council's focus on midwifery issues 

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has expressed concern about the proposed removal of statutory midwifery supervision from Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) legislation.

The change would be part of a wider shake-up of the regulator's legal framework currently being consulted on by the Department of Health.

The RCM used its response to express concern over the proposed removal of the statutory midwifery committee from the NMC’s governance, which would be replaced by a non-statutory supportive supervision programme. The college is concerned that removal of the committee could lead to a dilution of the NMC's focus on midwifery-related issues.

Furthermore, it is proposed that the new framework would comprise clinical supervision for those in clinical practice, as well as peer review for practising midwives outside clinical practice. However, the RCM fears this would be difficult to sustain in the long term.

RCM chief executive Cathy Warwick said the NMC had provided ‘assurance that the proposed changes do not affect: the separate registration of midwives; direct entry to the register as a midwife; the protected title of a midwife; the protected function of attendance on a woman in childbirth; or separate competencies and pre-registration education standards for midwives’.

She expressed support for a new system of non-statutory supportive supervision and leadership in midwifery but was concerned at the loss of the midwifery committee as it is ‘currently the only voice of midwifery within a nursing-dominated council’.

Although the NMC recently appointed a midwifery adviser to work one day a week, and a panel to provide advice on matters affecting the profession, Ms Warwick warned that ‘as quickly as these posts and processes are created they can be dismantled – unlike a statutory midwifery committee’.

However, the union welcomed plans to improve the quality of Fitness to Practise (FTP) hearings.

Unison head of nursing Gail Adams said she was concerned that the timeframe for the consultation is ‘quite short considering the magnitude of the proposed changes’ and added that the union would consult with its members before making its official response.

An RCN spokesperson said the college would be responding to the consultation at a later date.

The consultation runs until June 17 and is available to view here

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