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26.01.17

NMC to ‘maintain and amplify’ voice of midwifery with new changes

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has agreed proposals with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) that ensure the regulator will retain advice relating to midwifery regulation, albeit in a different form.

The NMC debated a paper, Future Advice on Midwifery Regulation, following the removal of the NMC’s Midwifery Committee under the government’s plans to crack down on midwifery supervision.

The RCM and its members had vociferously campaigned against the loss of the NMC Midwifery Committee in their response to the DH’s consultation on the changes, warning that the proposals could mean there was “no voice for midwifery” in the NMC.

Louise Silverton, director for midwifery at the RCM, said that the college is “particularly pleased” with the outcome of the discussions.

“The RCM has succeeded in securing protections and a commitment from the NMC that will maintain and amplify the voice of midwifery within the regulator.

“Specific interventions like those planned will always be needed for as long as midwifery is regulated alongside the much larger nursing profession, despite their being two distinct and separate professions.”

While a Midwifery Committee will still no longer be required by law, the RCM has been assured that a reconstituted Midwifery Panel will have a remit to provide “strategic input into policy or regulatory proposals affecting midwifery matters”.

The NMC has also committed to promote the panel, along with employing more midwives in key posts, hosting twice yearly ‘listening’ events and creating midwifery-specific expert groups when reviewing certain policy areas.

An NMC spokesperson said: “We have worked closely with the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and other stakeholders to ensure there continues to be a strong midwifery voice within the NMC and we are delighted that the RCM have welcomed our approach to this. 

“We will continue to raise awareness within the midwifery community, and more widely, of the role and work of the Midwifery Panel and we look forward to continuing our work with the RCM and other stakeholders in the future.”

The NMC will remain obligated in law to consult midwives on matters that affect the profession, with this obligation being unaffected by the planned changes.

The DH’s decisions to change midwifery supervision are intended to prevent serious failings of care, such as those which led to infant deaths at Morecambe Bay hospital.

Last year the NMC announced that it would launch an independent review into how it handled the Morecambe Bay scandal. The review will commence once the outstanding fitness to practice cases surrounding the scandal have concluded at some point this year.

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