Independent Midwives and the women they have cared for gather today outside the Houses of Parliament as part of the “Your Body, Your Birth, Your Choice” campaign in protest at the imminent demise of Independent Midwifery in the UK.
The government’s proposed implementation of the EU Directive on Cross-Border Healthcare makes professional indemnity insurance (PII) a requirement for healthcare professionals and will effectively end the work of the 170 Independently practicing midwives in the UK. These midwives have been unable to secure PII since 2002 and, unless an affordable insurance solution can be found, the Nursing and Midwifery Council will be obliged to remove Independent Midwives from their register when the Directive comes in to effect by 25 October 2013.
Independent Midwives fill an important gap in the birth choice spectrum in the UK. They often attend women whose previous experiences of NHS care have been poor. Their clinical skills, such as experience with vaginal births after caesarean sections, vaginal breech birth and vaginal birth of twins, are frequently unavailable to women through the NHS.
We know that Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights guarantees every woman the right to choose the circumstances and place of her baby’s birth. Without the support that Independent Midwifery offers there will be some women who will be unable to make those choices. There is also danger of vital clinical skills being lost without the experience of midwives working outside the NHS.
Birthrights will be responding to the Department of Health’s current consultation on this issue highlighting the human rights implications for women and midwives and we will be among the protestors on Monday.
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