Plan to consult on ‘new era’ of midwifery education in the UK

Ambitious draft midwifery education standards have been outlined ahead of a proposed public consultation in early 2019.

The draft standards, informed by the best evidence and developed in partnership with midwives, mothers, families and other health professionals, set out the proposed knowledge and skills the next generation of midwives will need to know so that they can deliver world class care in communities across the UK.  

Putting mothers and their families first, the proposals place a greater emphasis on mental health and on public health. They aim to equip midwives with the skills to identify individual health and mental health needs early on in the pregnancy, where necessary working in collaboration with multidisciplinary and multi-agency teams.

There’s an increased focus on continuity of care for mothers, newborn infants and their families with the aim that throughout pregnancy and after birth mothers receive care from the same health professionals. Public health including health promotion, disease prevention and health protection are also at the heart of the new standards. 

Under the draft proposals, education institutions will also be given greater freedom to be more creative in designing their curriculum and more innovative in the way they educate midwives. They will be able to harness the latest evidence, modern technologies, and care techniques to ensure students have the knowledge and skills they need to provide safe, effective, respectful, and compassionate care. 

Professor Geraldine Walters CBE, Director of Education and Standards at the NMC, said:

“More than 2,000 babies are born each and every day in the UK with mothers and families supported by 40,000 highly skilled midwives. The demands on midwives are changing and it’s vital that education keeps pace to ensure that midwives of the future have the skills they need to deliver better, safer care throughout their careers. For the last two years we’ve collaborated with midwives, mothers, families and other health professionals to develop these proposals but they’re not yet the finished article. We need people to tell us what they think to help us to develop and refine the standards further.”   

Professor Mary Renfrew, Professor of Mother and Infant Health at the University of Dundee, and standards development lead said:

“Midwifery education in the UK is entering an exciting new era and 2019 will see the NMC launch a UK wide consultation seeking views on proposals that will reshape the future of midwifery education. 

“These standards have been informed by a high quality evidence base and by the views of women, families, midwives, and others. We now know that continuity of care is very important for safe and effective care for all women and babies. Changes in society have also been considered; for example, changing population health needs mean that women increasingly have one or more health conditions that may affect their health and well-being in pregnancy, at birth, and beyond. Women are deciding to have children later in life, and modern fertility treatments mean that people who might not have previously been able to conceive can do so. 

“These proposals are another step on the road to enabling the next generation of midwives to strive for the highest standards and to meet these increasing demands by providing world class care now and in the future.”

Council will be asked to approve the draft standards for public consultation at its next meeting on 28 November. The relevant papers can be found here.

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