Blog: Speed dating at the NMC

Published on 28 May 2019

Gill Walton is Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM). Read her perspective on the development of our new five year strategy.

Gill WaltonI am proud to be a midwife and I have always had a strong and often loud passion for promoting and supporting my profession.

I was delighted to be asked to be a ‘roving chair’ for the NMC co-productive workshop as part of the development of their next strategy. Midwives have been feeling less confident with the NMC as their regulator for some time. This is therefore the opportunity for midwives to have a strong voice during this process and be very clear about what the NMC can do to value the midwifery profession, keep them safe and ensure that women and families get safe care and a good experience.

I believe that the NMC’s greatest challenge is to make sure that midwives are recognised as a separate profession from nursing so that all the work of the NMC is tested for ‘midwifery fit’ at every turn.

How midwives and the midwifery profession are supported to be autonomous, which is essential to ensure empowered care for all women must be part of this strategy.

Why is it so confusing?

Why is it, that many people continue to use ‘nurse’ when they mean midwife? Physios are not nurses, doctors aren’t nurses, doctors are not dentists, vets are not midwives! Why is it still so difficult to understand that midwives are not nurses!

Midwives are accountable for the care of all women accessing maternity care, either as their named midwife, providing continuity of carer or within a multi-professional team. Midwives are the conductor of that orchestra on behalf of women; their advocate and as the evidence shows the midwife is the intervention that saves lives and improves the experience of women in childbirth.


My second recommendation is about Leadership. In order to deliver continued improvement in maternity care and services, strong leadership is required at every level. Leaders that challenge poor practice, poor service provision, poor care by others and truly advocate for women. Leaders that work in trusting, respectful collaborative relationships with obstetricians and the wider maternity team. Leaders that help every midwife be the best they can be.

My question is - has the NMC got a role in influencing the Leadership agenda as part of their strategy? If women and families are to feel safe and cared for, arguable strong and identifiable midwifery leadership in clinical practice and at all professional levels is essential.

Post-registration learning through education and training

My third point is to bring attention to the inclusion of their intention within the strategy for ensuring post registration learning through education and training. This needs to be setting standards wider than revalidation and constantly evaluated and developed.

I am in the autumn of my (employed!) career and I really would like to stop hearing myself say “midwifery is not a branch of nursing”. I would like the NMC to finally spell out in their new strategy the uniqueness of midwifery as an identifiable and different profession from nursing and raise the confidence of the public and the profession.

The level of engagement with each group at the ’speed dating’ session was fantastic and spells out an organisation wanting to listen and get it right! I am looking forward to more!

PS……Gill from Winchester and Ed from North London, fancy a beer!

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