I am a midwife and my heart is breaking. I have spent 15 years working tirelessly in the career I love serving the women and families I have come to love. My passion for a woman’s right to make her own choices about how, where and with whom she births her baby are as strong as I write this, than they were the day I became a student midwife. For the last 13 of those years I have been working as an independent midwife and it has been the most wonderful time of my life, for I now know how empowering it can be, not only for women, but for the midwife too, to make individual informed choices.About 5 years ago I received a letter from the Government stating that due to new legislation that was coming from the EU it would be illegal for midwives to practice without insurance within 18 months. It has actually taken much longer than that but despite all that has been done by the Independent Midwives, the law will be in force from October 2013 and I will therefore legally have to stop practicing as I do now.
Choice for women and midwives will legally be no more. It will be the NHS way or nothing.
This is not something that is directed solely against independent midwives. There are already lots of rumours about why this is coming about but this is not anyone trying to rid the country of independent midwives due to how they practice or because doctors or the NHS want to take control. We have been caught in an unfortunate situation. The new law will say that all health care professionals should have professional Indemnity insurance in order that the public have protection in the event that human error makes it necessary for them to make a claim against a practitioner. Whilst all other health care professionals such as Osteopaths, Physiotherapists, Podiatrists to name but a few, can purchase insurance on the commercial market, midwives cannot. The insurance companies are about making a profit, they are a business and they can clearly see that a valid claim involving a baby will not make them a profit from premiums collected from 150 midwives or so. So there we are, caught in a situation not of our making.
We started fighting back, we had marches and campaigns, we drew attention to our plight and we had pledges of support from many a high place. The Government pledged to help us; David Cameron said if he came to power he would not let it happen. They said Independent midwives provide gold standard care and are valuable to the profession. So far they or he have not carried out their promises. The solutions they suggested way back when we first had notice of the proposed changes are not viable. We have jumped through every loop they have suggested, we have walked every promised path from every insurance broker who has said they can help, but we are no closer to a solution.
We have put every valid argument forward; that its women’s, choice that we always inform woman of the situation as per our rules, that there has only ever been a couple of personal claims against independent midwives ever, that our outcomes and statistics speak for themselves, that the country is already short of midwives, that it feels to be against our human rights, that it takes away choice for women which in itself goes against Government policy, that it will make women and midwives go underground and that ultimately it may make women birth without a midwife putting them and babies at risk. As usual woman and babies are at the bottom of any political agenda. This is a woman’s rights issue and not many concerns themselves with woman’s rights or issues.
Collectively we will not give up the fight till the very end and I personally pledge not to ever give up on woman and on my profession even if my profession gives up on me. I will always be a midwife whatever that may cost me but it doesn’t stop my heart from breaking