The Nursing and Midwifery Council - amendments to modernise midwifery regulation and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of fitness to practise processes

Closed 17 Jun 2016

Opened 21 Apr 2016

Overview

The Department of Health wants your views on the proposals to make changes to the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s governing legislation through changes to the Nursing and Midwifery Order 2001. These proposed address three objectives:

1. Remove statutory midwifery supervision provisions
The NMC has a clear regulatory framework which applies to the two distinct professions that it regulates — nurses and midwives. In all key respects this framework applies to both professions in the same way. In addition to this main regulatory framework, for historical reasons, midwives have been subject to an additional tier of local regulation. It has become increasingly clear over recent years that this additional tier is unnecessary (as midwives are no more inherently dangerous or risky practitioners than doctors, nurses or healthcare professionals). 

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) and a Department of Health investigation led by Dr Bill Kirkup both produced reports following failings in midwifery care at Morecambe Bay University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust that were critical of the additional tier of midwifery regulation.  In addition the NMC commissioned the King’s Fund to undertake an independent review of midwifery regulation which supported these criticisms and endorsed the call for urgent change.   The King’s Fund supported the PHSO recommendation that the supervision and regulation of midwives should be separated and the NMC as the regulator should be in direct control of all regulatory activity. This recommendation was accepted by the NMC Council and supported by the Kirkup report. The Secretary of State for Health has accepted the recommendations of the Kirkup Report in full and committed to bringing forward proposals to amend the NMC’s legislation. 

The proposed changes will result in clear separation of the roles and purpose of the supervision and regulation of midwives.

2. Abolishing the statutory Midwifery Committee.
Although the NMC regulates two professions, nurses and midwives, the NMC is required by its legislation to have a statutory midwifery committee to advise the NMC Council on matters relating to midwifery - it has no similar requirement to have a statutory nursing committee.  Furthermore, none of the other healthcare professional regulators have a comparable statutory committee. The government has a policy objective to streamline and rationalise regulatory legislation. Therefore it is considered that it would be appropriate to make this proposed statutory change now at the same time as making changes to modernise midwifery regulation.

3. Make some improvements and efficiencies to the NMC’s fitness to practise processes.
These proposals will include giving Case Examiners and the Investigating Committee power to agree undertakings and issue warnings and advice with registrants at the end of the investigation stage of the Fitness to Practise process.
 

What Happens Next

We will read and consider all responses and publish a response to the consultation. The Government response will set out how comments and views shaped the final decisions.    A summary of the response to this consultation will be made available before or alongside any further action, such as laying legislation before Parliament, and will be placed on the GOV.UK website (www.gov.uk/dh).

Audiences

  • Nurses
  • Health visitors
  • Midwives
  • Regulatory body
  • Employer representatives
  • Employee representatives
  • Trade union
  • Royal Colleges
  • Members of the public
  • Patients
  • Patients
  • Service users

Interests

  • Regulation