This means that once legislation is changed, the system of statutory supervision of midwives will no longer be part of the framework that regulates midwives.
This decision follows a review of midwifery supervision, commissioned by the NMC and carried out by the King’s Fund. The King’s Fund review recommended the removal of midwifery supervision from the NMC’s legal framework.
Midwifery supervision is a system whereby a senior and experienced midwife – a supervisor of midwives (SoM) acts in a mentorship role to other midwives, typically having about 15 midwives under their supervision.
This role can include support and development of the midwives under their supervision. It also includes powers to step in and enforce additional training and development for midwives and monitoring of their competence to practice.
Families using maternity services can also contact midwifery supervisors if they have concerns about their care.
Commenting on the NMC decision, Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the RCM, said: “This could at a stroke wipe out an important aspect of public protection.
“The review does recognise that the supportive and developmental aspects of midwifery supervision are important and should continue. The idea behind this element of the system is that supervisors of midwives identify practitioners who may be feeling that they lack competence at an early stage. They are then able to do something to rectify that before it gets to the point of harming someone.
“I think the recommendation to lose the regulatory aspect of the midwifery supervisor’s job is sensible and practical and not one that we would object to. However, the supervisory and development aspect of what they do is very important. If it goes it will be a significant loss that could harm the profession and have a negative impact on the care mothers and babies receive.
“At present, there are no other systems in place to take up the gaping hole that is left after the NMC decision. This is a fundamental issue about patient safety and it is one that midwives and mothers-to-be should be deeply concerned about.”