The King’s Fund to undertake independent review of midwifery regulation

1 May 2014

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has commissioned The King’s Fund to carry out an independent review into the regulation of midwives. 

While standards of practice and education have been regularly reviewed, this is the first review of the statutory framework of midwifery regulation since midwives became a regulated profession in 1902. 

The review follows the publication of a report by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman in England, Midwifery supervision and regulation: recommendations for change. The review will consider the concerns identified in the report, in particular the potential conflict of interest between Supervisors of Midwives’ regulatory and supervisory roles. It will also explore potential models for the future of midwifery regulation across the UK.

Jackie Smith, NMC Chief Executive and Registrar, said: 

“I am delighted that The King’s Fund will carry out the review of this important function. We are looking forward to working with them and with key stakeholders across the UK to make sure that the regulation of midwives continues to be effective across modern care settings, with public protection at its core.” 

Julie Mellor, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, said: 

“Our report, Midwifery supervision and regulation: recommendations for change found the lives of mothers and babies could be put at risk because of a potential conflict of interest between midwifery regulation and supervision. We are pleased this has led to an urgent independent review and look forward to a robust exploration of the separation of midwifery supervision and regulation to ensure the improved safety of mothers and babies in the future.” 

The King’s Fund’s recommendations will be presented to the NMC Council. 

Read the terms of reference for the independent review of midwifery regulation.



Notes for editors

1.   The NMC is the nursing and midwifery regulator for England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Islands. We exist to safeguard the health and wellbeing of the public. We set standards of education, training, conduct and performance for nurses and midwives, and hold the register of those who have qualified and meet those standards. We provide guidance to help nurses and midwives keep their skills and knowledge up to date and uphold our professional standards. We have clear and transparent processes to investigate and deal with nurses and midwives who fall short of our standards.

2.   The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and health care in England. They help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Their vision is that the best possible care is available to all.

3.   Supervisors of Midwives are experienced practising midwives who have undertaken additional training to support, guide and supervise midwives. Every midwife must have a named supervisor of midwives. They oversee the work of the midwives. They also guide and support midwives in developing their skills and expertise. They can also address concerns about a midwife’s practice, including suspending them from the NMC’s register and referring them to the NMC for investigation.

4.   The UK has 41,746 registered midwives. Of these, 2,389 are registered as supervisors of midwives (correct as of 15 April 2014).

5.   For media enquiries, please contact or on 020 7681 5649.