About safest and best possible care says RCM on new NMC Future Midwife Standards

on 04 October 2019 Midwifery Student midwives NMC - Nursing and Midwifery Council Safety Safe high quality care Consultations Education Evidence-Based Practice Multi Disciplinary Working Perinatal Mental Health Public Health Midwifery Continuity of Carer - MCOC Midwifery and nursing degree

Yesterday the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) approved new Standards of proficiency for midwives and Standards for pre-registration midwifery programmes. 

The RCM has been actively engaged  with the NMC on the development of these standards and welcomes the wide ranging and inclusive engagement the NMC has undertaken in their development. A response from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) was submitted to the NMC’s consultation on the standards[1].

The RCM is pleased that the standards have been developed using the best current evidence and have been informed by the Quality Maternal and Newborn Framework, as published in The Lancet Series on Midwifery 2014[2].

The standards recognise midwives as autonomous practitioners working as part of a multidisciplinary team across health and social care. This recognises how midwives as individuals work and, how vital it is that they work collaboratively; with doctors and other health professional colleagues for the benefit of mothers and newborn infants.

A greater emphasis on the midwife’s role in areas such as public health, social care and perinatal mental health is also welcome. This recognises the critical role midwives have in supporting women with these issues, a role that could be lifesaving. The RCM is also pleased to see a focus on the importance of respectful, kind and compassionate relationship building with women including the importance of continuity of carer.

The standards also recognise and enshrine key elements of the midwife’s role. These include optimising normal physiological processes and being able to recognise and respond appropriately in the first line management of complications as well as providing the additional care needs for women and newborn infants.

Early on in the development of these new standards the RCM raised concerns that they may not be deliverable within the existing traditional 3 year educational framework.  We recognise that this has been a topic of extensive debate and consideration.  We would like to thank the NMC staff and Council for their measured consideration of this issue and their commitment to undertake an evaluation of the new standards which will include a review of the length of the programme. They have also agreed to work with the four country Chief Nursing Officers on the expectations for preceptorship for newly qualified registrants.

Commenting, Carmel Lloyd, Head of Education at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “These are hugely important and welcome standards for midwives, student midwives and for our future midwives. We needed standards that mirrored the reality on the ground in our maternity services.

“Midwifery practice, maternity services and most importantly the needs of women and newborn babies have changed significantly over recent years. So a fresh look at the standards was needed.

“The standards now reflect the environment in which midwives and student midwives work and practice. They are ground breaking and a significant step forward from the previous standards and it is to the NMC’s credit that they have done this.

“Ultimately this is about preparing, enabling and supporting midwives to provide the safest and best possible care for women, newborn babies and their families. That is why midwives go to work each day and why they chose this profession.  We now need to ensure that the NHS gives midwives the resources to ensure they can do that.”

To contact the RCM Media Office call 020 7312 3456, or email [email protected]

The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website at https://www.rcm.org.uk/.


[1] https://www.rcm.org.uk/media/3386/rcm-response-to-nmc-consultation-on-future-midwife-final-2.pdf

[2] https://www.thelancet.com/series/midwifery