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Landmark changes for midwifery as NMC legal framework is modernised

The Nursing and Midwifery Council is separating midwifery supervision and regulation in changes to its legal framework.
Midwife_iStock_Tile.jpg

Landmark changes separating statutory midwifery supervision from regulation have come into force.

The changes are part of proposals to modernise the Nursing and Midwifery Council's (NMC) outdated legal framework, and follows a consultation launched by the Department of Health in April last year.

The NMC said that the separation of supervision from regulation comes after a number of critical incidents and independent reports, that confirmed existing arrangements for midwives were not appropriate for public protection.

Prior to the changes, supervisors were responsible for developing and supporting midwives, but could also be asked to investigate serious incidents involving the same midwives.

The NMC will now be fully responsible for all aspects of midwifery regulation.

'Important change'

Parliamentary and health service ombudsman Julie Mellor said:

Landmark changes separating statutory midwifery supervision from regulation have come into force.


Existing arrangements for midwives were no longer see to be
appropriate for public protection. Picture: iStock

The changes are part of proposals to modernise the Nursing and Midwifery Council's (NMC) outdated legal framework, and follows a consultation launched by the Department of Health in April last year.

The NMC said that the separation of supervision from regulation comes after a number of critical incidents and independent reports, that confirmed existing arrangements for midwives were not appropriate for public protection.

Prior to the changes, supervisors were responsible for developing and supporting midwives, but could also be asked to investigate serious incidents involving the same midwives.

The NMC will now be fully responsible for all aspects of midwifery regulation.

'Important change'

Parliamentary and health service ombudsman Julie Mellor said: 'Our recommendations have become a reality, which will help ensure that lessons are learnt when mistakes are made, improving the safety of mothers and babies across the country.

'These vital changes came about as a result of the brave families who came to us seeking justice after suffering harrowing ordeals. We owe them all a debt of gratitude.'

NHS England has written to every midwife outlining the new model of midwifery supervision.

Commenting on the new model earlier this month, Royal College of Midwives (RCM) chief executive Cathy Warwick said it was a 'significant development and an important change for midwives.'

Fair regulation 

'The RCM hopes that midwives, maternity services and ultimately women and their babies will benefit from the introduction of this new model.'

The changes also mean that the NMC will no longer be required to maintain a statutory midwifery committee, but the regulator has established a midwifery panel to provide it with advice on key midwifery issues.

Changes to the NMC's fitness to practise processes have also come in to force, which will allow for greater flexibility in the scheduling of hearings and will mean interim order reviews take place at six month intervals. Further changes are expected later this year.

NMC chief executive Jackie Smith said: 'I have maintained for a long time that our legislation in this area was out of date and in need of reform. These changes will, for the first time, ensure that we are fully responsible for all aspects of the regulation of midwives helping to ensure safe and effective practice, with regulation of midwifery that is proportionate, fair and focused on public protection.'


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