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Blog: NMC Council approves new midwifery standards

Read the latest blog from Donna Ockenden, Senior Midwifery Adviser to the NMC

I want to start today’s blog with some very exciting news! After over two years and a truly comprehensive engagement process, the NMC Council has finally approved the Future Midwifery Standards. I’m very grateful for the incredible contributions we received from many midwives, student midwives, women and their families and so many others throughout the process of developing these new midwifery standards.

The new standards set out the skills and knowledge future midwives will need to join the register, are based on the best current evidence and reflect the changing context that midwives now work in.

So today, I will share with you some examples from a recent visit in London that highlight how many midwives are already delivering incredible care in ways that align with these new standards.

Visit to Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust

I was delighted to be invited to visit maternity services at St Marys Hospital in London last week, part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. The team were so proud to tell me that they were recently named the first ‘Outstanding’ maternity unit acrossall their sites in London, by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

In speaking with staff across the areas we visited, I heard a common theme that seemed to be one of the keys to their success. Staff felt listened to and felt that the management team were both visible and accessible. In my visit, I heard from staff who felt that they were supported and empowered by their teams and managers to take the initiative and make changes where they felt they could improve things.

Any changes made to clinical care or processes within the Trust were also supported by data, feedback and engagement with the women and families who use maternity services at St Mary’s. For example, it was clear from this information that they, like many maternity services, are now seeing an increasing number of women who have more complex care needs. The midwives used this knowledge gained directly from women when restructuring their specialist antenatal teams (e.g. maternal medicine, fetal medicine and recurrent miscarriage) so that women then benefitted from seeing the same maternity team at every appointment.

The senior leadership team within maternity at Imperial also recognise that no one way of working suits every team. They encourage midwives to own and lead work in their own departments, especially in regards to developing continuity of care models. I was told by midwives that this kind of support, helps them feel heard and appreciated, and gives them the space to care for women and themselves most effectively. Many staff told me that without a doubt, they would want their families to be cared for at Imperial.  

I met with a number of women and families who told me consistently that they felt safe receiving care from midwives and the maternity team at St Mary’s. Families I spoke with said they felt the midwives were friendly and warm and that there was excellent care, no matter what time of day. One mother said ‘I feel consistently safe and always listened to, nothing is too much trouble for the staff here, I would not want to be cared for anywhere else.’

Donna Ockenden visits Imperial College Healthcare Trust

Future plans

In my 3 years with the NMC, I’ve had the opportunity to visit many maternity services across the UK, meeting midwives, student midwives and maternity teams on the ground. I’ve seen countless examples of midwives and maternity teams taking the initiative to make changes that better suit the needs of the women they work with.

I will continue to visit midwives and maternity services across the UK so please do get in touch if you’d like me to visit your service. I love to see for myself the ways midwives are touching the lives of women and families and making a positive difference to the communities around them. I always make sure that examples of the work and feedback that is shared with me reaches the very heart of the NMC. I know how important it is to myself, the Chief Executive, Andrea Sutcliffe, and the wider NMC team that we understand and appreciate the reality of delivering clinical care in today’s maternity services.

I am also excited to invite midwives and student midwives from services I’ve visited over the last year to the NMC in London for an ‘NMC Open Doors' event on 16 October. This will be an opportunity for midwives and student midwives across the UK to receive updates from the NMC and share news of their good practice and challenges with other midwives and maternity services. Please do let me know if you would be interested in attending a future event here at the NMC.

You can get in touch with Donna on Twitter @DOckendenltd or via email at

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