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Ensuring midwives are competent

Midwives' competence is measured against the Midwifery Council's Competencies for Entry to the Register. Applicants for registration as a midwife must hold qualifications as required by the Midwifery Council, demonstrate that they are competent to practise within the Midwifery Scope of Practice and provide certain information to satisfy the Council that they are fit for registration.

In addition, the Code of Ethics and Guidelines in the “Midwives Handbook for Practice” published by The New Zealand College of Midwives 2008 edition (“NZCOM”)  and the “Consensus Statements” published by NZCOM represent good practice. Midwives are also required to be aware of and comply with the requirements of:

Applicants for a practising certificate also have to provide information to satisfy the Midwifery Council that they continue to be fit and competent to practise. A midwife's Scope of Practice is endorsed on their practising certificate and in the online register.

The Council has policy on ongoing professional development to ensure that once registered, midwives continue their professional education and maintain and enhance their competence to practise. Midwives, as with all health practitioners, need to be willing to commit to continuing education as part of being a registered health practitioner. The Midwifery Council's Recertification Policy sets out the programme in which registered midwives must engage to demonstrate that they are competent to practise within the Midwifery Scope of Practice.

You can check the status of your chosen midwife by searching the public Register elsewhere on this site.

Concerns about a midwife's competence

If you are an employer or a colleague and have concerns about a midwife's competence, you may wish to contact the Registrar to discuss the situation  and find out what information the Council requires to assist it in addressing the issue. We would encourage you to discuss your concerns with the midwife first and advise themthat you are considering making a referral to Council.

Also if a midwife resigns or is dismissed for reasons relating to competence the employer is required to notify the Midwifery Council of the reasons for that resignation or dismissal.

In 2010 all the health regulatory authorities and DHBNZ developed agreed guidelines for competency referrals to assist in their respective roles around these processes. 

The Council can review a midwife's practice when it becomes aware of possible competence issues. Examples of situations which may lead to a review are: 

  • Where there is a series of errors
  • Where there are flaws in a midwife’s clinical judgment, decision making or processes
  • Where there are obvious gaps in a midwife’s knowledge