• DHSC to work with Royal College of Midwives to develop new routes into midwifery
  • Health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt aims to standardise maternity support role
  • Annoucement will include 3,000 additional midwives to be trained over four years

The health and social care secretary will announce new training routes into midwifery today as well as a new voluntary register and education standards for maternity support workers.

The Department of Health and Social Care has said it will work with the Royal College of Midwives and other “key partners” to develop the new training routes, which will allow maternity support workers to become registered midwives faster.

Sarah Jane Marsh

Sarah-Jane Marsh: ‘We look forward to welcoming thousands more midwives to the NHS front line’

A voluntary register and national competency framework will also be set up for maternity support workers – who currently have to work supervised by registered midwives – to ensure the role is standardised and staff are “appropriately trained”, Jeremy Hunt will announce.

This is similar to action elsewhere in nursing with the creation of the nursing associate role, which is a two year training scheme for staff in a job which will be regulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council. There have been concerns about substitution if trusts replace registered nursing posts with nursing associates who do not have a nursing degree.

There are currently no entry requirements or register for the role of a maternity support worker. They assist midwives in caring for women and babies through pregnancy, childbirth and the first few days of birth.

Mr Hunt will also announce plans to train 3,000 additional midwives over four years, starting with 650 more midwives from next year and an increase of 1,000 in the following years.

Mr Hunt wants to cretea a “continuity of care” model, which will be in place by 2021 and aims to give women care from the same midwives throughout their pregnancy, labour and birth.

Sarah-Jane Marsh, chair of the NHS England maternity transformation programme, said: “This set of announcements has the potential to be the turning point in the health of a generation, and we look forward to welcoming thousands more midwives to the NHS front line.”