What is the conduct expected from midwives?
One of the functions of the Midwifery Council is to set standards of clinical competence, cultural competence and ethical conduct to be observed by members of the midwifery profession. Council has developed and approved a Code of Conduct for midwives, which should be read in conjunction with:
- the Competencies for Entry to the Register
- the Code of Ethics and Standards for Midwifery Practice which are set out in the Midwives Handbook for Practice published by the New Zealand College of Midwives.
Guidance as to the type of issues that the Council will address as matters of conduct is also provided by the grounds on which a practitioner may be disciplined in the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal as set out in section 100 of the HPCA Act, in summary these are:
- An act or omissions that amounts to malpractice or negligence
- An act or omission likely to bring discredit to the midwifery profession
- Conviction for an offence that reflects adversely on the midwife’s fitness to practices
- Practice while not holding a practising certificate
- Performing a health service which is not permitted within the scope of practice
- Failure to observe conditions on practice
- Breach of an order of the Tribunal
Examples of a complaint that will be dealt with as a conduct matter are:
- When a midwife does not follow guidelines or the birth plan, particularly a one off situation
- When a midwife seems to make a deliberate decision relating to (poor) care
Professional Conduct Committees (PCC)
The Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act provides for the establishment of Professional Conduct Committees to deal with complaints and notifications that relate to conduct. The Council appoints members of a PCC which determines its own process and operates independently from the Council. A Professional Conduct Committee may make determinations or recommendations which may include that a charge be brought against the practitioner in the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal.
An example of a referral by the Council to a Professional Conduct Committee is the case of a midwife who had not met her professional responsibilities to engage in the Recertification Programme. As a result of its investigation the Professional Conduct Committee made some recommendations, all of which the Council accepted and acted on. An anonymised version of the report is available here so Council's attitude towards the few midwives who do not engage in the Recertification Programme is clear.
If something goes wrong or you are not happy with the care you have received from your midwife you can find out about things you can do here.