On the noble Baroness’s second point, I shall of course take due note of her recommendation. It is something to which we will give very careful thought. On the principal issue that she raised about supervision, as she knows, the statutory supervision of midwives was designed more than 100 years ago—in 1902, I believe—to protect the public. In our view, it no longer meets the needs of current midwifery practice. The King’s Fund was commissioned by the NMC to review midwifery regulation following the findings of the ombudsman that midwifery regulation was structurally flawed as a framework for public protection. The current structure does not differentiate between the requirements of regulation and clinical supervision.
If, as I anticipate, legislation is needed to change this—I think it is clear that it is—that is likely to take up to two years, even on the best estimate. During that time the Department of Health will work with the UK chief nursing officers, the NMC and the Royal College of Midwives to develop a four-country approach, which it has to be, as the noble Baroness will understand, to midwifery supervision that will replace the current statutory midwifery supervision. I hope that that is helpful.