The Department of Health has launched its consultation on the proposed changes to NMC legislation for midwives and nurses.
The proposals include removing statutory midwifery supervision provisions, which will result in a separation of the roles and purpose of the supervision and regulation of midwives.
Also on the table are removing the statutory Midwifery Committee from the NMC’s governance structures and improvements to the NMC’s fitness to practice processes.
The NMC has provided the RCM with assurance that the proposed changes do not affect: the separate registration of midwives; direct entry to the register as a midwife; the protected title of a midwife; the protected function of attendance on a woman in childbirth (this applies to labour only) or separate competencies and pre-registration education standards for midwives.
Cathy Warwick, RCM chief executive, said: ‘On the introduction of a system of non-statutory supportive supervision and leadership in midwifery, the RCM is supportive of this work, led by the Department of Health and the four chief nursing officers in the UK.
‘Although we remain concerned about the system being able to sustain a non-statutory framework of supervision for midwives in the long term.
‘The RCM is also concerned that the statutory Midwifery Committee is currently the only voice of midwifery within a nursing dominated council.
‘What is worrying is that without this voice regulation for midwives will be largely determined by another profession.’
The NMC has recently appointed a midwifery adviser and a midwifery panel to provide advice on midwifery matters.
But the RCM has concerns they can be dismantled as quickly as they were created.
Cathy added: ‘Finally, we welcome the proposed changes which will enable the NMC Fitness to Practice processes to be more effective and efficient.’
NMC chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith said: ‘We are delighted that the government has opened its consultation around changes to our legislation and would encourage anyone interested to respond to it.
‘We have been pushing consistently for a more modern legal framework because, as an organisation which is there to protect the public, we know it will make the NMC more efficient and cost effective.’
The RCM is encouraging all midwives and those who have an interest in the regulation of midwives to respond to the consultation, which can be found here.