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Peer behind two key reports on nurse education joins NMC panel

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Lord Phil Willis of Knaresborough has been appointed by the Nursing and Midwifery Council as one of two new members of its midwifery panel.

The panel is made up of the chief nursing officers from the four countries of the UK, representatives from the NMC’s council, the Royal College of Midwives and other leading midwifery figures.

“They both come with a great deal of the experience and expertise and will be great additions to the panel”

Jackie Smith

It was set up in March 2015 and provides the regulator with “straight-talking, high level advice” on key midwifery issues that affect midwives and mothers across the UK, said the NMC.

The panel also provides a forum to develop strategic thinking on all aspects of the future approach to midwifery regulation.

Since retiring as a Liberal Democrat MP in 2010, Lord Willis dedicates much of his time to research in areas including science and innovation and health policy.

This included an investigation into pre-registration nurse education, which was commissioned by the Royal College of Nursing. The so-called Willis Commission published its findings in 2012.

He subsequently also led the Shape of Caring review, which was jointly commissioned by the government arms’-length body Health Education England and the NMC.

The review group published its final report in March 2015 and set out 34 recommendations to ensure that nurses and healthcare assistants received high quality education and training over the next 15 years, paving the way for the nursing associates pilots that are taking place at sites across England.

Lord Willis already sits on the NMC’s future nurse sponsoring board, overseeing the development of new pre-registration nursing standards.

In addition, he is a visiting lecturer at several universities including York, London City, and Nottingham and is acting as a consultant to Health Education England.

Lord Willis said: “I am delighted to have been asked to join the NMC midwifery panel and trust that I can add to the very positive focus there is on the future of midwifery in the UK.”

The second new member of the midwifery panel has been named as Leigh Kendall, a patient leader and NHS communications professional.

In 2014 she had rare, life-threatening pregnancy complications, called HELLP syndrome and also pre-eclampsia after just 24 weeks of pregnancy. Her son Hugo sadly died aged 35 days.

“I trust that I can add to the very positive focus there is on the future of midwifery in the UK”

Lord Willis

Since his death, Ms Kendall has been raising awareness of the importance of effective communication in healthcare, as well as HELLP syndrome, premature babies, and baby loss – collectively known as Hugo’s Legacy – through her Headspace Perspective blog.

Ms has also co-led the #MatExp social movement, and the related Nobody’s Patient project. She is currently the communications lead for NHS Horizons, which is part of NHS England.

Ms Kendall said: “I am very pleased to be appointed to the panel. I am looking forward to contributing my personal and professional experiences to the crucial work of the panel, supporting midwives and mothers throughout the UK.”

Jackie Smith, NMC chief executive and registrar, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Leigh Kendall and Lord Willis to the midwifery panel.

“They both come with a great deal of the experience and expertise and will be great additions to the panel,” she added.

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