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Midwifery legislation proposals a 'retrograde step', claims RCM

  • 7 Comments

Changes to midwifery legislation will result in a “retrograde” step for the profession as future decisions on regulating midwives will be made largely by nurses, it has been warned.

The concerns, raised by the chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, are in response to government plans to overhaul laws for midwifery regulation and remove statutory supervision of midwives.

The proposals were announced last summer in the wake of the investigation by Dr Bill Kirkup into care failings at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.

“Without the voice of the midwifery committee, regulation for midwives will be largely determined by another profession”

Cathy Warwick

A recommendation was made by the inquiry to separate the supervisory function from the regulatory process, after the system was deemed “ineffectual at detecting manifest problems” at Morecambe Bay. Those behind the investigation also said the problem was unlikely to be “unique to this trust”.

But a government consultation on the proposals has stated that, as part of the overhaul, it also wants to abolish the legal requirement for a midwifery committee at the Nursing and Midwifery Council, which advises on regulation.

It said this was because it had a “policy objective to streamline and rationalise regulatory legislation”, noting that there was no equivalent statutory nursing committee.

“The midwifery committee is the formal route for the midwifery voice to be heard within a nursing-dominated organisation”

Cathy Warwick

RCM chief executive Cathy Warwick has labelled the proposed removal of the committee as a “retrograde step” that would have a negative impact on the safety of women and babies.

“The midwifery committee is the formal route for the midwifery voice to be heard within a nursing-dominated organisation – 95% of the [NMC] register are nurses.

“Without the voice of the midwifery committee, regulation for midwives will be largely determined by another profession,” she said in blog post in which she urged midwives to respond to the consultation.

“The removal of the midwifery committee, without a wider review of regulation and the setting up of a separate register, is a retrograde step, which will undermine the profession and impact on the safety of women and babies,” she added.

The NMC declined to comment on whether it would continue to take advice on regulation from a committee of midwives, even if it were not legally required to do so in the future.

The government consultation on the legislative reforms is open until 17 June, with changes expected to be made in early 2017.

  • 7 Comments

Readers' comments (7)

  • The nurses don't actually want this. Besides, most of the people making the decisions will be government appointees.

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  • michael stone

    There are a lot of 'retrograde steps' being taken at the moment, it seems to me: and as a cynic, I think the motivation is frequently down to cost-saving, whatever the reasons put forward are.

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  • Stone. Yet another vacuous remark. Sad you have nothing more productive to do with your time.

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  • michael stone

    ANONYMOUS 8 JUNE, 2016 10:06 AM

    1) The remark was not 'vacuous'

    2) It is indeed 'sad' that I've got the time to argue with you, and nothing better to do with said time.

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  • Stone. Vacuous to your presumed intended readers who are predominantly professionals in the field. Go and amuse yourself on the role model section where you can read and might learn something useful about what nurses actually do! It would also help you take your focus off yourself.

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  • Michelle

    What is with the ridiculous comments bashing Michael Stone on NT? This isn't the first time I've seen "Anonymous" attack him for voicing his opinion.

    Anyway it's a shame the midwifery committee is deemed surplus to requirements. Surely there should be a say on how midwives are regulated etc from those who have or currently are practsiing as midwives? To me it feels like the equivalent of physiotherapists saying how dentists should be regulated - both professions have skills that are similar but each with enough differences to make them unique.

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  • michael stone

    Anonymous 8 June, 2016 4:41 pm

    I'm me, the same 'me', whether I comment here or elsewhere - so how come I'm 'vacuous' here, while I'm not on BMJ:

    http://www.bmj.com/content/353/bmj.i2452/rr-15

    where a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist is agreeing with me: '... and I agree with Stone’s rapid response'.

    Michelle - I strongly suspect, that it all comes down to money and resources within the NMC: you are of course correct.

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