New education standards for midwifery are to be brought in by September 2020, with some universities having the option to run revised courses under the new requirements a year earlier, the Nursing and Midwifery Council has confirmed.
The timetable for introducing the new standards was agreed at a NMC council meeting today, following proposals published in council papers last week.
“One of the reasons we want to start the midwifery work now is so we can start that engagement”
During 2016 and 2017, the regulator will engage with stakeholders to develop the standards. Formal consultation on the draft standards will take place in spring 2018, with the final version published in early 2019.
Related work on developing new education standards for nursing has already begun, with draft versions expected by summer 2017 and all universities running revised courses that meet the new requirements by September 2019.
However, the NMC’s plan to look at standards for midwives was stalled due to forthcoming regulatory changes around midwifery supervision.
At today’s meeting, concerns were raised about the risk of a lack of continuity between the two sets of standards.
Some council members said that the delayed start to developing and consulting on the midwifery standards meant common competencies required for both roles might not be included within each set of standards in the same way.
“The advantage of having done the nursing standards first is that we can highlight the differences and the similarities”
In response, NMC deputy director for education Clare Padley said the regulator wanted to begin working on the midwifery standards straight away to ensure there was time to carry out engagement with stakeholders before the nursing standards were finalised.
“There is a lot of overlap between the professions – in the same way that we have a single code for them – in terms of critical thinking skills and some of the generic skills,” said Ms Padley.
“We’ll be taking learning from one session to the other and testing it out with the midwives and seeing what parts are applicable,” she said.
“But we also need to make sure we pick up the differences in the two professions and make sure the standards give what each of them needs. One of the reasons we want to start the midwifery work now is so we can start that engagement before we finalise the nursing standards,” she added.
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NMC chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith later reiterated to Nursing Times that this was not a cause for concern and that some parts of the midwifery work would have to “catch up” with the programme for developing the nurse standards.
“The advantage of having done the nursing standards first is that we can highlight the differences and the similarities,” said Ms Smith.
“That will enable us to accelerate some work, while at the same time recognising that they are two distinct professions working in very different ways,” she said.