This guideline makes recommendations on safe midwifery staffing requirements for maternity settings. The guideline focuses on the pre-conception, antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal care provided by midwives in all maternity settings, including: at home, in the community, in day assessment units, in obstetric units, and in midwifery-led units (both alongside hospitals and free-standing).

The guideline identifies organisational and managerial factors that are required to support safe midwifery staffing, and makes recommendations for monitoring and taking action if there are not enough midwives available to meet the midwifery needs of needs of women and babies in the service.

There are other national documents that are relevant to midwifery staffing for NHS services, including:

Your responsibility

The recommendations in this guideline represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals are expected to take this guideline fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or service users. The application of the recommendations in this guideline is not mandatory and the guideline does not override the responsibility of healthcare professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or their carer or guardian.

Local commissioners and/or providers have a responsibility to enable the guideline to be applied when individual health professionals and their patients or service users wish to use it. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this guideline should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.