Baston H, Durward H, 2nd edn. London: Routledge; 2010

Bloomfield L, Rogers C, Townsend J, Wolke D, Quist-Therson E The quality of routine examinations of the newborn performed by midwives and SHOs; an evaluation using video recordings. J Med Screen. 2003; 10:(4)176-80

Clarke P, Simms M Physical examination of the newborn: service provision and future planning. British Journal of Midwifery. 2012; 20:(8)546-9

Cluett E Using the evidence to inform decisions. In: Raynor M, Marshall J, Sullivan A (eds). Edinburgh: Elsevier; 2005

Cluett E, Bluff R, 2nd edn. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone; 2006

Critical Appraisal Skills Programme. CASP checklists. 2013. (accessed 13 February 2017)

Fryer N, Evans C Examination of the newborn: professional issues in practice. In: Lomax A (ed). Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell; 2015

Ironton RSouthampton: University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust; 2012

Lanlehin R, Noble H, McCourt C How well do midwives use skills and knowledge in examining newborns?. British Journal of Midwifery. 2011; 19:(11)687-91

McDonald S Examining a newborn baby: are midwives using their skills?. British Journal of Midwifery. 2008; 16:(11)722-4

McDonald S, Allan H, Brown A Perceptions of changing practice in the examination of the newborn, from holistic to opportunistic. British Journal of Midwifery. 2012; 20:(11)786-91

Mitchell M Midwives conducting the neonatal examination: part 1. British Journal of Midwifery. 2003a; 11:(1)16-21

Mitchell M Midwives conducting the neonatal examination: part 2. British Journal of Midwifery. 2003b; 11:(1)80-4

Nursing and Midwifery Council. 2015. (accessed 13 February 2017)

Rees C, 3rd edn. London: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2011

Rogers C, Jay A, Yearley C, Beeton K National survey of current practice standards for the newborn and infant physical examination. British Journal of Midwifery. 2015; 23:(12)862-73

Rogers C, Yearley C, Jay A Education provision for the newborn physical examination as a post-registration module: National survey. British Journal of Midwifery. 2017; 25:(2)88-92

Steele D Examining the newborn: why don't midwives use their skills?. British Journal of Midwifery. 2007; 15:(12)748-52

Steen M, Roberts TChichester: Wiley-Blackwell; 2011

Townsend J, Wolke D, Hayes J, Davé S, Rogers C, Bloomfield L, Quist-Therson E, Tomlin M, Messer D Routine examination of the newborn: the EMREN study. Evaluation of an extension of the midwife role including a randomised controlled trial of appropriately trained midwives and paediatric senior house officers. Health Technol Assess. 2004; 8:(14)iii-iv

National support offered to trusts implementing NIPE SMART. 2016. (accessed 17 February 2017)

Williamson A, Mullet J, Bunting M, Eason J Neonatal examinations: are midwives clinically effective?. RCM Midwives. 2005; 8:(3)116-18

Yearley C, Rogers C, Jay A Including the newborn physical examination in the pre-registration midwifery curriculum: National survey. British Journal of Midwifery. 2017; 25:(1)26-32

Are specially trained midwives the right professionals to perform the newborn physical examination?

02 March 2017
Volume 25 · Issue 3


The newborn infant physical examination (NIPE) is a screening tool and holistic assessment of the newborn, and abnormalities detected are referred as per individual Trust procedures. The extension of the role of the midwife has enabled specially trained midwives to undertake the NIPE, which had previously been the exclusive remit of medical practitioners. However, the clinical effectiveness of midwives in this role has not been measured in a robust manner. The introduction of the NIPE SMART tool should facilitate comprehensive and systematic audit of clinical effectiveness of practitioners in conducting NIPE, and standardisation of the examination and documentation. Even so, the eligibility criteria to have NIPE undertaken by a midwife varies between NHS Trusts, and calls for standardisation of such criteria have remained unanswered.

It is widely accepted that the midwife, having received specialist training, is the appropriate health professional to conduct the newborn infant physical examination (NIPE) on low-risk infants (Mitchell, 2003b; Townsend et al, 2004; Clarke and Simms, 2012; Ironton, 2012; Fryer and Evans, 2015; Rogers et al, 2015). Although NIPE is standardised nationally, Trusts invoke different criteria regarding which low-risk neonates are eligible to have NIPE undertaken by a midwife (McDonald et al, 2012; Rogers et al, 2015). This article explores the available literature on midwifeled NIPE, using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (2013) and Cluett and Bluff's (2006) critiquing tool to conduct a comprehensive analysis.

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting British Journal of Midwifery and reading some of our peer-reviewed resources for midwives. To read more, please register today. You’ll enjoy the following great benefits:

What's included

  • Limited access to our clinical or professional articles

  • New content and clinical newsletter updates each month