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Changes to midwifery legislation come in to force

31 March 2017

Long awaited changes to the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) legislation have come in to force today. These important changes will modernise midwifery regulation by separating statutory supervision from legislation. The changes also mean that the NMC will no longer be required to maintain a statutory Midwifery Committee.

The separation of supervision from regulation comes after a number of critical incidents and independent reports which confirmed the existing arrangements for midwives were not appropriate for public protection.

NMC Chief Executive and Registrar Jackie Smith said: “I’m pleased to see these important changes finally take effect.

“I have maintained for a long time that our legislation in his area was out of date and in need of reform. These changes will, for the first time, ensure that we are fully responsible for all aspects of the regulation of midwives helping to ensure safe and effective practice, with regulation of midwifery that is proportionate, fair and focused on public protection.”

New models of supervision, no longer linked to regulation, have been developed in each of the four countries of the UK which will help to ensure that midwives retain the things about supervision which they most value.

We are committed to ensuring a strong midwifery voice within the NMC following the removal of the Midwifery Committee. We have established a Midwifery Panel which will provide us with high level advice on key midwifery issues and we will continue to strengthen this important group with additional members. We will also secure advice on midwifery and maternity matters through task groups and listening events, as well as through the work Professor Mary Renfrew is leading on developing new midwifery education standards.

Changes to our fitness to practise processes have also come in to force today. These changes will allow for greater flexibility in the scheduling of hearings and will also mean interim order reviews take place at six month intervals.

Further changes to our fitness to practise processes are due to come in to force in the summer, with our Case Examiners receiving expanded powers issue warnings, recommend undertakings and give advice. These changes will allow us to develop a more proportionate approach to cases, with powers to resolve some less contentious matters more simply and quickly, taking only the most serious cases to a full hearing.

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Notes for editors

  1.  For media enquiries, please contact NMC press office on 020 7681 5409 or email media@nmc-uk.org. ​
  2. The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is the independent professional regulator for nurses and midwives in the UK. We exist to protect the public. We do this by maintaining the register of qualified nurses and midwives and setting standards of education, training, conduct and performance. We make sure that nurses and midwives keep their skills and knowledge up to date through a regular revalidation process. If concerns are raised about the standards of a registered nurse or midwife, we have a duty to investigate and, where necessary, take action to protect the public. 
  3. For more details on the changes to our legislation and suprervision of midwives visit the NMC website.