NICE has issued its second draft guideline on safe staffing levels for midwives in the NHS.
The new recommendations published today (17 October), give advice on how to make the right staffing decisions for women and their babies, wherever they choose to receive their care.
The draft recommendations set out responsibilities of hospital managers and actions organisations should consider as part of their midwife staff planning.
They consider the ongoing process that registered midwives should use to determine whether there are sufficient staff to provide for the needs of women and babies, and the red flags that warn when immediate action is required.
One proposal stressed in the draft guideline is that every woman should have at least one registered midwife present during established labour.
RCM head of policy Sean O’Sullivan said: ‘The RCM will be submitting detailed comments in response to this consultation, the timing of which is particularly apposite, given current concerns about staffing shortages.
‘Our assessment is that 3200 more midwives are needed in England to ensure that all women receive care that is both safe and of good quality. It is our hope that the guidance that emerges following this consultation will make a significant contribution to the elimination of this shortage, once and for all.’
The draft guideline calls for hospital boards and senior management to plan for all midwife care to be delivered by registered midwives and includes step-by-step guidance on determining the number of midwives required and how to be flexible to unplanned variations.
It is also suggested that, as a minimum, the number and skill mix of midwives needed should be determined by the midwife in charge at the start of every shift or service, but more frequently in maternity services where needs change quickly, for example birthing units.
Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE, said: ‘The care that a woman receives, throughout her pregnancy and after she has given birth has a huge impact on her physical and emotional wellbeing, as well as the health of her baby.
‘We are now actively seeking feedback from midwives, hospital trusts, doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals, as well as members of the public, to ensure the views of all relevant stakeholders are reflected in the final guideline.’
Organisations can register as a stakeholder on the NICE website and have until 13 November to submit their comments.
Individuals are advised to pass comments through a registered stakeholder organisation that most closely represents them, but are also welcome to submit comments directly via the NICE website.