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'It is vital we create space to think about what the future holds for midwives'

Jacqui Williams
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Every day, midwives support women and their families through a life-changing and special time, but it’s a time when they are also at their most vulnerable.

We are seeing increasing numbers of women with complex needs, so it is vital that pre-registration midwifery education equips midwives to be able to give safe, effective and personalised care at the point of registration.

I joined the Nursing and Midwifery Council as interim senior midwifery adviser in April 2018. Since then I have been leading the organisation’s future midwife project team – working closely with Professor Mary Renfrew, who leads the work to develop brand new standards of proficiency for midwives at the start of their career.

The project is part of our wider education programme, at the end of which, we will have reviewed and developed new education standards for all those we regulate.

“Our focus is on developing new standards of proficiency for midwives’

We recently published new standards of proficiency for registered nurses alongside our standards that set out how nursing and midwifery training should be delivered and assessed.

Now, our focus is on developing new standards of proficiency for midwives to make sure that when new midwives register, they are equipped with the skills they need to care for and meet the needs and wishes of women, babies and families now and in the future. These new standards will help to shape the future of the profession.

As part of our work we’re listening to views of hundreds of people, including midwives from a range of backgrounds, students, educators, health professionals, employers, charities, women and family members from across the UK. To date, we have spoken to over 500 people.

Some clear themes are emerging, such as communication, women-centred care and multidisciplinary working. We’re using what people tell us alongside the very latest research to develop our first draft of the standards.

As we move into the next phase of work, we continue to hear from as many people as possible. Learning from midwives is crucial to be able to produce the outcome-focused, future-proofed, standards that set the building blocks for continued professional development.

“As a midwife, I know well how difficult it is to think past upcoming busy shifts”

As a midwife, I know well how difficult it is to think past upcoming busy shifts, but it is vital we create space to think about what the future holds and to talk about this.

I want to encourage everyone involved to think about what the midwives of the future will need to know and be able to do.

There is still plenty of time to get involved and share your views. Throughout the year we will be holding workshops across the UK. There will be also webinars and Twitter chats to keep you informed hear your views on specific areas.

In early 2019 we will hold a formal consultation, when we will run more workshops and focus groups that will be open to all, so everyone can tell us what they think of our proposals.

While I have only been involved in this project for a short time, I’m thoroughly enjoying this fantastic opportunity to make a real difference and I look forward to meeting many more midwives, health professionals, women and families over the coming months.

Jacqui Williams is interim senior midwifery adviser, Nursing and Midwifery Council (seconded from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Nottingham)

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