Nursing in Practice Autumn 2021 (issue 121) - Page 30

30 PROFESSIONAL team works well together , within an organisation that supports them . Issues such as poor leadership and culture , a lack of continuing professional development or underlying failures to recognise and escalate concerns across the wider MDT cannot be fixed by midwives on their own .

Supporting midwives to maintain high standards in challenging times

Geraldine Walters outlines how the NMC is laying the groundwork for the future of midwifery

A ll the midwives on the NMC ’ s register have shown professionalism and dedication during the past 18 months . They have had a crucial impact in maintaining the quality and safety of maternity care delivered to women and their babies in unprecedented circumstances and , in many instances , adapted their ways of working to ensure they could continue to provide this support and care .

Student midwives have also made an invaluable contribution , at the same time as coping with uncertainty and disruption to education and training . I know many midwifery students are inspired by the midwives they work alongside . If that ’ s you , particular recognition is due .
As a result of midwives ’ experience and skill , most maternity services in the UK achieve excellent outcomes and deliver a positive experience for women , their families and babies , and have continued to do so despite the heat of the pandemic .
But we also know some services were experiencing challenges before the pandemic hit , and continue to do so .
The importance of leadership Too often , tragic outcomes related to childbirth are a result of broader problems in maternity services . A great maternity service is delivered when the whole of the multidisciplinary
References 1 Standards of proficiency for midwives . NMC , 2019 . bit . ly / 2WVEinS 2 Principles of preceptorship . NMC , 2020 . bit . ly / 2YxFVJt 3 Raising concerns . NMC , 2019 . bit . ly / 3h7SRfj 4 Speaking up : caring with confidence . NMC , 2020 . bit . ly / 2WTQ6Hw
Looking to the future The NMC ’ s new future midwife standards 1 play a part in making maternity services stronger , helping to provide consistently excellent care in a changing world . They ’ re designed to equip the midwives of the future with the knowledge , skills and behaviours required to meet the needs of women , make complex autonomous decisions in the face of challenging and uncertain situations , and be proactive and collaborative team members and leaders .
But this doesn ’ t just apply to midwives of the future . As part of revalidation , all qualified midwives need to reflect on the new future midwife standards and think about how they apply to their own specific area of practice , in order to help keep skills and knowledge up to date . Properly funded CPD and access to training is important if midwives are to revalidate successfully , and to ensure familiarity with the new standards so they can effectively supervise and assess new midwifery students .
Once students qualify , structured preceptorship – like the model the NMC has outlined in its principles of preceptorship 2 – can help them to manage the tricky transition from student to fully qualified professional , and lay the foundation for a successful career . High-quality preceptorship can also help midwives feel confident and valued .
Promoting safety and a learning culture Maternity care is complex and carries risks . Midwives themselves are often best placed to recognise things that might create risk or cause harm .
Services are stronger where professionals feel able to speak up , admit mistakes and learn from them . At the NMC , we have the regulatory power to remove midwives from the register if there is evidence of seriously unsafe practice , but we would rather use our powers to encourage learning and improvement , so care becomes better for everyone . We want to focus on understanding what has happened when something goes wrong , rather than assigning blame .
We believe the best way to support this is to give midwives the chance to address concerns , encouraging them to be honest , to speak up and to reflect in order to build a culture of openness .
These responsibilities are embedded in the future midwife standards and the NMC ’ s Code . They encourage professionals to take responsibility and speak up if they see something they feel isn ’ t right – no matter where they practice or what their level of seniority .
If you are interested , read our guidance on raising concerns 3 , or watch our animation about speaking up . 4
Speaking up takes courage and professionalism – and it can save lives .
Working together to be better It will take all of us – regulators , employers and professionals – to join forces to deliver sustainable improvements in maternity services .
At the NMC , we will continue to play our part and provide the structures and processes to make midwifery care better for everyone . It is time to do more than just speak about making the necessary improvements . No one person or organisation can fix those issues , but the NMC will do all we can to make improvements happen for midwives , and for women and families .
Geraldine Walters CBE is director of professional practice for the NMC
ALAMY nursinginpractice . com Autumn 2021