What you can do to save midwifery as an independent profession in the UK.

By Ruth Weston and Emma Ashworth

Independent Midwives are in the NMC firing line, and most of the campaigning that you might see is about this. However, the NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council), which made this decision, did so without a practicing midwife on the board, and the ramifications of the decision affects every midwife in the UK.

For instance, the NMC have stated, “A registered midwife can only attend a woman during a birth if she has appropriate indemnity cover. The midwife cannot avoid this legal requirement by attending the birth in a ‘non-midwife’ capacity… The only exception to this is when a midwife attends a birth in a personal capacity to support a family member or close friend for whom they have not previously provided midwifery services”. “Services” includes emotional and physical support, meaning that midwives are being banned from attending the births of their grandchildren, or their own babies in the case of male or lesbian midwives if they’ve so much as listened in, or supported their partner through morning sickness.

The NMC is removing the midwifery committee, which advises the NMC on midwifery matters. Its replacement will have no budget and delegatory powers and it is unclear who will be on it and what its role will be within the NMC. As the NMC – the NURSING and Midwifery Council – has overwhelming numbers of nurses compared to midwives, and the way it is now being set up means midwives will be regulated by a completely different professional – one geared to nursing sick people rather than caring for healthy women -without their own voice being heard at all.

There is a huge risk that this will toll the death knell to midwifery as an independent and autonomous profession. It will become subsumed into the nursing profession as another branch of nursing. This is certainly the way the NMC and the Government legislation is treating midwifery at present and would mean Midwives would lose the status of being THE professional experts in the normal maternal pathway and key care provider. This is not inevitable but as a profession and as parents we must rise up and clearly and strongly oppose the removal of the midwifery code, the midwifery committee and lack of representation for mothers and midwives at the NMC. The profession has never been in more jeopardy, and never has the care of women and their babies been so much at risk since the formation of the profession of midwifery. It falls to us to do something about it..

What can I do?
1) There have been several petitions. The writer of this one admits that if it had been less rushed it would be better worded.  However, if we want Parliament to take note of the voices of women, midwives and their families, then this is a good petition to start the ball rolling.  Please do support it. https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/178561

2) Share your story of how midwives have helped and supported you. What impact will the lack of access to IMs have on you? Share on:

Facebook, Save Independent Midwifery page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/443681876022589/

Send to Birthplace Matters who is preparing stories and letters to the NMC through birthplacematters at yahoo.co.uk

Send them to the saveourmidwvies.co.uk website.

Don’t forget to include permission to share.

3) Tweet! Use the #savethemidwife hashtag with your messages about how this affects you. You can tag Jackie Smith of the NMC using @JackieSmith_nmc, and BBC Watchdog (@BBCWatchdog)

4) Write to your MP. The website saveourmidwives.co.uk has important template letters which answer the cut-and-paste responses that most MPs are sending. Find your MP here: http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/

5) Join IMUK, the Independent Midwives’ professional body, as a supporting member. It only costs £20: http://www.imuk.org.uk/professionals/join-imuk/

6) Make a complaint to the NMC. E-mail complaints@nmc-uk.org. They have less than 20 working days to respond. It is important to mention that it’s a formal complaint to ensure you go straight to Stage 2 of their complaints process. If you don’t like the reply, simply respond. Say you’re not satisfied, say why, and then appeal the complaint response, escalating to Stage 3.

7) Many women and Midwives across the UK are using their passion, creativity and skills to support independent midwives and to challenge midwifery regulation to do its work better. Do what you can with the people you can, and watch this space as more developments are in the pipeline. Thank you!

This is NOT “Public Protection”. Response to NMC Mishandling of Independent Midwifery.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC’s) decision to stop Independent Midwives (IMs) from practicing is, in their words, for public protection.

IMUK have clearly stated that they feel that their indemnity policy is sufficient. The NMC have stated that they believe it’s not. They also say that they not in a position to state what would be enough. This in no way supports IMUK and in turn this does not support the public who want or need the services of an IM. This is not “public protection”.

But does medical liability insurance protect the public in any way, even if it is “sufficient”, as IMUK believe?

The definition of malpractice, or medial liability insurance (MLI) is a policy which, “protects health care providers against patients who sue them under the claim that they were harmed by the physician’s negligent or intentionally harmful treatment decisions.” (reference: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/m/malpractice-insurance.asp)

There is nothing in that definition which is protecting the public. MLI protects the practitioner. This is not “public protection”.

So, what does MLI actually offer? In the case of IMs, in the unlikely situation that an IM makes an error which causes harm to a mother or baby, the indemnity means that if the parents decide to sue the midwife, the midwife will be able to call upon her policy to pay damages to the parents (after a significant amount of legal wrangling which may take years, and in the meantime the mother or child will receive nothing other than the regular state provided care).

If the injury was not caused by an error by the midwife (or the baby is born with a condition which is unrelated to birth, including some cases of cerebral palsy), the parents will have no recourse from the IM’s indemnity policy and will need to rely on the state provision.

If the state provision is not sufficient for the baby or mother who is damaged by an error, it is not sufficient for those for whom there is no one to “blame”. This is not “public protection”.

In addition to this, there is no evidence at all that MLI changes practice. MLI does not mean that practitioners try harder to not make mistakes, nor that they make fewer mistakes. In other words, the same number of mistakes happen whether or not the practitioner holds insurance. This is not “public protection”.

MLI does not protect the public, so let’s stop pretending that that is what this is about.