Nursing and midwifery

The nursing, midwifery and health professions (NMaHP) workforce has a vital role in developing and delivering work programmes that:

  • improve patient care and public health
  • enhance quality and safety
  • get best value from health and social care services

Head of the profession in Scotland is the Chief Nursing Officer.

The following links provide more information about the nursing and midwifery workforce:

Nursing workforce

Nurses make up the largest single profession in our NHS, they are at the heart of our health service and care for people both young or old. They care for their patients in a variety of settings, not just in hospital wards, but in GP practices, homes and care homes, and in communities across the country. The role of a nurse has developed into the highly skilled, graduate service that it is today.  

Nursing 2030 Vision

We published our Nursing 2030 vision in July 2017. This sets out the Chief Nursing Officer’s long term strategy to shape the future of the nursing workforce. This document identified three main areas for action:

  • personalising care
  • preparing nurses for future needs and roles
  • supporting nurses

We are developing a detailed action plan to demonstrate how to make this vision a reality.

Transforming Nursing, Midwifery and Health Profession (NMaHP) roles

The Transforming Nursing, Midwifery and Health Profession (NMaHP) roles programme is led by Scotland’s Chief Nurse. The programme aims to ensure nationally consistent, sustainable and progressive NMaHP roles and career pathways which will see an appropriately skilled workforce contributing to new models of care delivery. 

The programme also aims to support shifting the balance of care, by:

  • reducing unscheduled care
  • reducing unnecessary admissions
  • supporting people to be at home
  • supporting the move further into prevention and anticipatory care

The programme will also clarify roles and levels of practice which will contribute to service reform and the move towards multidisciplinary teams. This is in line with Realistic Medicine and the National Clinical Strategy.

The initial focus was on:

  • reforming community nursing for adults due to the population demographic trends in ageing, ill health and co-morbidity
  • clarifying the Advanced Nurse Practitioner contribution to support wider service transformation
  • reforming community nursing for children in line with evidence on ensuring the best start in life to support population health improvement  

See the list of reports we have produced to support the Transforming Roles Programme.

Midwifery workforce

Midwives are crucial to ensuring that women and babies have safe and effective maternity care, and that babies have the best possible start in life. 

Scotland’s maternity services are delivered by highly educated, skilled and dedicated midwives, who lead and co-ordinate care for all women and throughout pregnancy, birth and the weeks that follow. Midwives have been at the forefront of the improvements in care for women and families.

Scotland’s midwives have led the way in providing women-centred maternity care through leadership in practice, education and research. We published our five year forward plan for maternity and neonatal care in January 2017. The plan explains how we will make care locally accessible, with midwives providing continuity of care to all women. We want current and future midwives to be prepared for implementing new models of care across Scotland in homes, communities, midwifery lead and consultant level services.

We will do this by ensuring that: 

  • midwifery workforce planning reflects current policy and NHSScotland’s needs
  • professional midwifery policy supports the recommendations our five year forward plan for maternity and neonatal care
  • there is a nationally consistent midwifery career framework that recognises the developments required across the four pillars of practice
  • there are nationally consistent role descriptors for maternity and neonatal Health Care Support Workers in line with the existing Health Care Support Workers career framework
  • clinical supervision for midwives is embedded and evaluated across Scotland
  • we have developed a national leadership programme for NHSScotland Chief Midwives

Clinical supervision of midwives

Clinical supervision for midwives contributes to:

  • improved services
  • safer care 
  • better outcomes for women and families

It does this by supporting midwives to advocate for women’s needs and to reflect on clinical midwifery practice in line with professional accountability and regulation. It is a restorative model of supervision that allows for reflection and takes into account the wellbeing of the midwife and their colleagues.

Governance for the standard of midwifery practice rests exclusively with employers from 1 April 2017.

You can read more about the background to changes in clinical supervision for midwives in our website archive.

Enabling Professionalism Framework

The Enabling Professionalism framework 2022, launched on the International Day of the Nurse on 12th May 2022, clearly articulates the professionalism, knowledge and expertise of nurses and midwives to supporting life, at every stage, and in a range of clinical and non-clinical settings, as well as their enduring (lifelong) commitment to their professions.

The Framework will provide us all with a better understanding of what the contribution of nursing and midwifery is and where both professions add most value to current and future services distinct to other professions.  

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