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Student midwives ‘rightly angry and upset’ after course axed

A Students’ Union says it is “deeply disappointed” after the university’s midwifery course was axed.

The Nursing Midwifery Council (NMC) pulled the course at Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) following concerns over safety and quality control.

Bosses at the Students’ Union say student midwives are “rightly both angry and upset” by the news.

We will continue to represent and support our student midwives to graduation as a qualified midwife

“Like the university, the Students’ Union is deeply disappointed with the decision of the NMC to withdraw accreditation for the midwifery course,” they said.

“Aside from the student midwives directly affected, the decision of the NMC has devastating consequences for the midwifery workforce in Kent and Medway, which is the concern of everybody in the region.

“The Students’ Union is in contact with the university and other interested agencies to push for rapid reassurance for the student midwives on their career and financial future, and we will continue to represent and support our student midwives to graduation as a qualified midwife.”

They added they were astounded by the resilience the students have shown.

Inspirational students

They said: “Working closely with our student midwives over the last few months has been inspirational for us. We have been astounded by the resilience they have shown, despite the difficulty and uncertainty of the situation, the passion for their vocation, and their care for each other and the women and babies they support.”

A report in December 2022, released by the NMC, outlined areas where the course at CCCU did not meet the necessary requirements to run, with the main contributor being a lack of student supervision.

The report found that students felt it was normal to work as part of a team including, taking care of women across a full shift without appropriate supervision by a midwife.

“They don’t always feel supported to report these concerns and find that if they do, they aren’t always listened to by practice or the university staff,” the report said.

“Students tell us that they don’t always work with practice supervisors. They describe a number of examples of how they often work unsupervised and that there isn’t enough staff to support them and told by staff in practice that this is normal.”

NMC has been working with the university since January 2020 after a series of complaints about the delivery of the programme.

Source: Adobe Stock, bevisphoto


Huge impact

Sam Foster, executive director of Professional Practice at the NMC, said: “We understand this is a significant decision which will have a huge impact on the students affected and the local workforce.

“However, as the UK’s midwifery regulator, our role is to protect the public and uphold the high standards of midwifery practice that women and families have the right to expect.”

A report released earlier this week said that in February 2023, the university decided to pause its midwifery student placements at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford following the concerns raised.  The Care Quality Commission later announced enforcement action at the hospital’s maternity and midwifery services.

Our absolute priority is the wellbeing of our students and staff, and ensuring that our students can continue to complete their studies

A spokesperson from Canterbury Christ Church said the decision to withdraw the approval for its midwifery course has devastating consequences for their students and midwifery in Kent and Medway.

They said: “Our absolute priority is the wellbeing of our students and staff, and ensuring that our students can continue to complete their studies and begin their future careers, to be the high quality, much needed midwives that this region needs. We will work with our staff, students and NHS Partners to achieve this.

“The University is a major provider of education and training for medical, health and social care professionals. Over the past 30 years the university has worked successfully in repeatedly securing accreditation for its courses with over a dozen PSRB’s (Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies) covering Health, Education, Policing and many other areas of professional practice.

“We are deeply disappointed that our significant submission, in partnership with NHS England, the Integrated Care Board and our midwifery placement providers in response to the NMC QA Board’s initial decision to withdraw approval has not been considered as having provided the assurances they required. Despite the NMC recognising the significant improvements undertaken by the university and its practice partners, and noting the time needed to implement the changes, we are disappointed that they have not afforded the university the opportunity to establish and embed the changes across different practice settings.”

The university assures their commitment to providing education and training for the widest range of health and social care professions.