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The profile of professional midwifery leadership in England

02 February 2019
16 min read
Volume 27 · Issue 2

Abstract

Background

The past decade has seen significant, system-wide changes to the midwifery profession as a result of major reports. A recurring theme throughout is the importance of professional midwifery leadership at a local, regional and national level.

Aims

To explore the profile of professional midwifery leadership in England following significant and system-wide changes to the midwifery profession over the past 10 years.

Methods

Access to an online survey was forwarded to Directors of Midwifery and Heads of Midwifery in England to gain understanding of the profile of midwifery leadership at a local, provider level. One-to-one meetings were conducted with senior, executive NHS professionals and chief executives from the Royal College of Nursing and Royal College of Midwives, politicians and members of the House of Lords.

Findings

Further recognition of midwifery as a separate profession is needed with due regard and formal authority afforded the profession at local, regional and national levels. Maternity services will benefit from employing a Director of Midwifery with direct access to the Trust Board.

Conclusion

There is a need for the national, regional and local senior midwifery structures to be reviewed with consideration given to a Chief Midwife nationally; Directors of Midwifery regionally and in every provider Trust in England.

The past decade has seen significant, system-wide changes to the midwifery profession. These have arisen as a result of a number of public enquiries, commissioned reports, publications and policy documents: Maternity Matters (Department of Health, 2007), Midwifery 2020: Delivering Expectations (Chief Nursing Officers of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, 2010), the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (2013) report into midwifery supervision and regulation, the report into midwifery regulation (The King's Fund, 2015), The Report of the Morecambe Bay Investigation (Kirkup, 2015) and Better Births (National Maternity Review, 2016). A recurring theme throughout these documents is the importance of professional midwifery leadership at a local, regional and national level. The purpose of this article is to explore this further, to gain insight into whether the system-wide changes that the profession has seen in recent years call for clearer definition of professional midwifery leadership roles in England, and a remodelling of where they are situated within provider organisations and at regional and national levels. The hope is that the findings from this review will contribute to organisational planning and restructuring to ensure that the priorities of midwifery care and maternity services are heard at the right level, that high quality, safe care is delivered and that outcomes are improved for mothers, their babies and their families.

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