March on the NMC: What Bornstroppy said

The NMC is not fit for purpose when it does not understand the profession it is regulating and does not work with the people it is supposed to be protecting.

This was the message Ruth gave at the demonstration outside the NMC headquarters on the 5th May 2017.  Led by Caroline Flint on International Day of the Midwife, mothers and midwves partners and children from all over the country came to protest at the actions and attitude of the NMC. A small delgation of mothers and midwves also met with NMC’s CEO, Jackie Smith and two members of her team.

It  was Ruth’s, first open air speech with a megaphone so here is what she would have said if she had not been up a ladder shouting over the traffic!

Her speech was captured on video here.

Our vision is for families in Britain to be happy, healthy, strong and stable.  We need a midwifery profession to be there to nurture, enable and empower mothers and their families to be just that.

In the words of Margaret Jowitt former editor of Midwifery Matters :

“Women need a strong midwifery profession with autonomous midwives backed up by a governance system NOT paid for, or supplied by, the Trust for which they work. Midwives keep birth safe. Midwives treat women as individuals. Midwives respect women’s right to choose.”

And so we want a regulator that understands this.  We want a regulator who nurtures, empowers and supports midwives so they can nurture, empower and support mothers.

Midwives keep birth safe and a midwifery regulator is there to keep midwives safe and midwives respected.

We therefore need a midwifery regulator that has an open and transparent culture, which is accountable both to the mothers and their families it serves and also the midwifery profession it regulates .  Do we have this? NO! Do we want it? YES!

We need a regulator that is supportive rather than punitive, a regulator that does not run on fear but on mutual professional respect, a regulator who midwives can ring up for advice and guidance without fear of retribution.   Do we have this? NO! Do we want it? YES!

We want a regulator that rather than increasing litigation by its activity reduces it!  And we don’t want a regulator who just bans attendance at the births of family and friends to try and get itself out of a tight spot. We want a regulator that acts reflectively and with sensitivity for best practice and compassion.  Do we have this? NO!  Do we want it? YES!

And we want a regulator that knows what a midwife is for goodness’ sake!  We want a regulator that knows the difference between employment and self employment in the profession! That understands and discourses with midwives from all branches of the profession – Do we have this ?NO!  Do we want it? YES!

I am a mother.  A mother of five children, and where I had good quality continuity of carer I remember the names of my midwives – they are etched on my heart.  Thank you Ann Devanney, Thank you Madge Boyle.  Thank you Michelle Irving.  Independent Midwife Michelle Irving was my midwife for Child number 5 because the NHS care I was being offered was no longer safe and my complaint had been ignored and refuted.  Independent Midwifery was a choice for safety and it cost 20% of our income and it took 2 years to pay it off – but we decided that a good, safe birth is priceless.

The NMC knows the cost of everything but the value of nothing. It speaks the language of legal regulation and public protection but does not speak to or listen to the mothers who know the real cost of their policies and the real value of a safe and compassionate midwife!

The NMC is not fit for purpose when it does not understand the profession it is regulating and does not work with the people it is supposed to be protecting.

NMC reform yourself, or we, the mothers and grandmothers of this nation, will TAKE YOU DOWN!

And we WILL take you down, Jackie Smith, if you do not start talking with us and listening to us. Julia Cumberlege talked to parents all over the country as part of her Maternity Review – the NMC should be doing this as part of their engagement and accountability programme.  It is courtesy to the public you say you protect.

So my call to you here today as mothers and midwives of this generation is to set about making the regulator we need and deserve for the benefit of the midwives and mothers to come.  It will take work and cunning and more work and political wheeling and dealing and a hell of a lot of campaigning but it can be done and we can do it.  That all mothers are supported through the maternal pathway is our vision, that the centre of our practice is nurture and good evidence is a value, but  OUR BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS GOAL is to have a fit for purpose regulatory body for midwives.  And if you won’t do it, NMC, we shall do it ourselves.  Because we, the public, want to be protected and to be protected we need a strong, autonomous, respected midwifery profession.

Follow me – Bornstroppy – on my blog.  Join the #savethemidwife campaign on FB.  Write to your MP AGAIN!  And tell your family, friends and neighbours, your sisters, cousins, children, tell your colleagues at work, the people in the supermarket queue, the people you meet on the train tonight.  This is about our babies, our bodies, our births!  It is about our profession, our good practice, our future autonomy. We do not ask for it because it is a nice thing – we demand it because it is our human right to be respected and nurtured to birth safely how we choose.  And a strong respected well supported compassionate midwifery profession is required to deliver this.

#SavetheMidwife!

#NMCNotFitforPurpose!

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!