Update: NMC Shuts Down Midwifery Programme Over Safety Concerns

Topics covered: challenge cqc, CQC, midwifery programme, NMC, Nursing and Midwifery Council, the NMC

Back in March 2023, I wrote about the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (“the NMC”) proposal to shut down Canterbury Christ Church University’s (“University”) midwifery programme at hospital trusts across the local area following concerning feedback received from existing students who reported a lack of supervision and being left alone to look after patients for entire shifts.

The NMC has now written to the University confirming the cancellation of accreditation for its midwifery programme. Since 10 May 2023, this midwifery programme has become obsolete as a route to becoming  a registered midwife in the UK.

As many as 130 midwife students were informed of this at the beginning of May 2023, after the University was forced to put the three year BSc degree on hold to new undergraduates in September 2022, a mere few weeks prior to the start of term. This further escalated to the University suspending placements at a local hospital in February 2023 due to these ongoing safety concerns and resulted in further investigations by the NMC.

Originally, the NMC gave the University until the end of March 2023 to turn things around. However, as noted by the NMC:

“While we acknowledge that some progress has been made since February, we are not assured that the midwifery programme run by Canterbury Christ Church University is meeting the required NMC standards. We’re concerned that the university, in partnership with the NHS trusts that provide placements for its students, is not equipping midwifery students to meet our requirements. In particular we are concerned about students not gaining the skills and expertise to deliver safe, effective and kind care when they join our register”.

The NMC did consider giving the University more time to make the necessary improvements, but ultimately decided that more time would not suffice to address the substantial and complex challenges that the programme is facing.

The NMC is working with the University and NHS England to explore alternative routes for these students to continue with their degree and ultimately join the midwifery register.

The NMC has also made it clear that these concerns are exclusive to the midwifery programme and not other nursing or nursing associate programmes at the University.

As stated above,  these concerns were largely due to a lack of supervision and students reporting they did not feel supported to raise concerns and when they did,  they did not feel listened to.  The fundamental concern being that students might graduate without being able to deliver safe care.

Educators and providers alike will want to take note of this significant decision in light or recent scrutiny by regulators when it comes to governance and oversight systems where safety of care is concerned.

At Ridouts we have seen regulators, particularly the CQC, come down harshly on providers where they deem oversight systems to be ineffective resulting in a failure to deliver safe care and treatment. This will include supervision of new and junior staff members, leading to other allegations of failing to deploy sufficiently competent and trained staff in order to deliver safe care and treatment.

The consequences of this can be extreme – including alleged breaches of regulations or potential prosecution where a failure to meet the conditions of Regulation 12 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 (i.e. safe care and treatment) results in avoidable harm or significant risk of such harm occurring. Therefore, providers will want to be vigilant regarding the training, supervision and support they offer to all staff, no matter their level.

If you are a provider who is experiencing issues with the CQC or another regulator, Ridouts specialist teams of solicitors may be able to help. Please call on 020 7317 0340 or email and info@ridout-law.com.

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