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NMC to reshape midwifery care for next generation

12 February 2019

Proposals to overhaul midwifery education in the UK have been outlined by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) today.

These proposals aim to ensure that the UK is the best and safest place to have a baby.
As part of its UK-wide consultation on the future of midwifery education, the regulator has set out the draft skills and knowledge the next generation midwives will need to learn so they can deliver great care in the years to come.

Under the plans, students will be given an increased focus on continuity of care for mothers, newborn infants and their families, so that throughout the pregnancy and after birth mothers receive care from the same group of health professionals.

Midwifery training would also place more emphasis on mental health care for mothers, with midwives focussing on identifying individual health and mental health needs early on in pregnancy, where necessary flagging these with other members of the multidisciplinary team.

There is also a greater focus on public health and health promotion, with midwives given a greater role in promoting healthier lifestyles for women and families.

Education institutions will be given the freedom to be more creative in designing their curriculum and more innovative in the way they train midwives. They will be able to harness the latest technologies and modern care techniques to ensure students have the skills they need to provide world class care.

Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, Chief Executive and Registrar, of the Nursing and Midwifery Council, said:

"Midwifery care in the UK is among the best and safest in the world and midwives are at the very heart of our communities. Every day across the UK, they deliver fantastic care for women and their families’ at one of the most important moments of their lives.

"This is a great opportunity not only for midwives but for women, families and other health and care professionals to shape the future of midwifery in the UK for years to come.

“We’ve used the best current evidence and worked in partnership with the midwifery community, women and their families to develop these draft standards. Listening to people’s feedback will be vital in getting these standards right and I would encourage everyone with an interest in the future of midwifery to get involved in the consultation."

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 the NMC’s new education standards will give the next generation the knowledge and skills they need to provide world class care in the years to come.

"The context in which midwives work has changed since the current standards were introduced in 2009. There’s new evidence to show how important the work of midwives is in keeping women and babies safe and in meeting their needs, and in advocating for the views and preferences of women and families.

"Social changes that affect women and families include changing population health profiles and growing inequalities. Technological developments including fertility treatment and new modes of communication all affect the lives of women, and the work of midwives. 

 "It’s vital that the NMC’s new standards take account of these changes and ensure women and families receive the right care at the right time.

 "These proposals reflect the best available evidence and represent two years of collaboration with midwives, women, families and the wider health and care community. But they’re not the finished article, and for that we need people to tell us what they think. Please do get involved and help us to make these new standards the best they can be."

Gill Walton, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), said:

"The RCM, as a member of the NMC Future Midwife Thought Leadership Group and Midwifery Panel, has been involved with the development of these new standards of proficiency for midwives and standards for midwifery education programmes. We will be encouraging our members to become involved and assist us in shaping our response to this important consultation.

"It is vital that the education and training student midwives receive reflects the world in which they will be working. Among many changes since the last review is a greater and increasing use of digital technology and a shift in the way care is, and will be, delivered, including the drive to provide more continuity of carer and a greater focus on promoting good health.

"We have one of the best and safest maternity services in the world due in no small part to the quality of our midwifery education. We want to see that continue so that our future midwives are equipped to provide the safest and best possible care."

Over the next twelve weeks the NMC will hold a comprehensive series of events to seek the views of a broad range of people including seldom heard voices and those with learning disabilities.

There will be workshops across the UK as well as a social media campaign, including webinars and twitter chats, open to anyone who wants to take part. It’s possible to respond as a midwife, another healthcare professional, mother family member or member of the public.

The consultation will go live at midday on 12 February 2019. 

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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. We are the independent regulator for nurses, midwives and nursing associates. We hold a register of all the 690,000 nurses, midwives and nursing associates who can practise in the UK. Better and safer care for people is at the heart of what we do, supporting the healthcare professionals on our register to deliver the highest standards of care. We make sure nurses, midwives and nursing associate have the skills they need to care for people safely, with integrity, expertise, respect and compassion, from the moment they step into their first job.

3. Learning does not stop the day nurses, midwives and nursing associates qualify. To promote safety and public trust, we require professionals to demonstrate throughout their career that they are committed to learning and developing to keep their skills up to date and improve as practitioners. We want to encourage openness and learning among healthcare professions to improve care and keep the public safe. On the occasions when something goes wrong and people are at risk, we can step in to investigate and take action, giving the people affected and their families a voice as we do so.