New future midwife standards have been published by the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC).

The new standards were adopted by the NMC Council meeting in October.

Standards of proficiency

The NMC’s new standards of proficiency for midwives consists of 6 broad standards (or domains) that the NMC expects each midwife to achieve at the point of registration.

These 6 standards are inter-relate and build on each other, and should not be seen separately.

The NMC said that “Together these [standards] reflect what we expect a new midwife to know, understand and be capable of doing safely and proficiently, at the start of their career.”

Being an accountable, autonomous, professional midwife

Midwives are fully accountable as the lead professional for the care and support of childbearing women and newborn infants, and partners and families. Respecting human rights, they work in partnership with women, enabling their views, preferences, and decisions, and helping to strengthen their capabilities. They promote safe and effective care, drawing on the best available evidence at all times. They communicate effectively and with kindness and compassion.

Safe and effective midwifery care: promoting and providing continuity of care and carer

Midwives promote continuity of care, and work across the continuum from pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, labour and birth, postpartum, and the early weeks of newborn infants’ life. They work in the woman’s home, hospitals, the community, midwifery led units and all other environments where women require care by midwives. The midwife is responsible for creating an environment that is safe, respectful, kind, nurturing, and empowering, ensuring that the woman’s experience of care during her whole maternity journey is seamless.

Universal care for all women and newborn infants

Midwives work in partnership with women to care for and support all childbearing women, newborn infants, and their families. They make an important contribution to population health, promoting psychological and physical health and well-being. Midwives optimise normal physiological processes, and support safe psychological, social, cultural and spiritual situations, working to promote positive outcomes and to anticipate and prevent complications.

Additional care for women and newborn infants with complications

Midwives are ideally placed to recognise any changes that may lead to complications. The midwife is responsible for immediate emergency response and first line management and in ensuring timely collaboration with and referral to interdisciplinary and multiagency colleagues. The midwife has specific responsibility for continuity and coordination of care, providing ongoing midwifery care as part of the interdisciplinary team, and acting as an advocate for women and newborn infants to ensure that they are always the focus of care.

Promoting excellence: the midwife as colleague, scholar and leader

Midwives make a critically important contribution to the quality and safety of maternity care, avoiding harm and promoting positive outcomes and experiences. They play a leading role in enabling effective team working, and promoting continuous improvement. Midwives recognise their own strengths, as well as the strengths of others. They take responsibility for engaging in continuing professional development and know how they can support and supervise others, including students and colleagues. They recognise that their careers may develop in practice, education, research, management, leadership, and policy settings.

The midwife as skilled practitioner

Midwives are skilled, autonomous practitioners who apply knowledge safely and effectively, to optimise outcomes for all women and newborn infants. They combine clinical knowledge, understanding, skills, and interpersonal and cultural competence, to provide quality care that is tailored to individual circumstances. They assess, plan, provide, and evaluate care in partnership with women, referring to and collaborating with other health and social care professionals as needed. They continue to enhance their midwifery practice for the benefit of women, newborn infants, partners, and families.


The new standards, whilst published, will not be implemented until 2020.  The NMC said that the first midwifery programmes based on the new standards will begin in September 2020 and the standards will be fully implemented by September 2021.

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