(NaturalNews) March 25, 2013 marked a historical day where thousands of midwifery supporters protested a landmark decision which outlaw independent midwifery by October 2013. Women from across the country marched to Westminster House of Commons as part of the Choose Your Midwife, Choose Your Birth campaign in an attempt to reverse the 2011 decision.
Midwifery under attack
In 2011, the UK government signed into the EU Directive on the application of patients' rights and cross-border health care that necessitates mandatory Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) for all health care providers, including Independent Midwives (IMs). Directive 2011/24/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of March 9, 2011 Article 4 (d) states that each EU member state has 30 months to implement the Directive with the deadline falling on October of this year. Once this regulation is implemented locally, it will end the practice of independent midwifery in the UK unless insurance companies change their policy to include midwifery.
Independent Midwives UK, which has been running since 1985, cares for women who are deemed "high risk" and have been refused home births or natural births by UK's National Health Service (NHS). IMs are registered midwives who have chosen to work outside the NHS to be able to offer continuous care and support to women who choose it. This is the kind of autonomous midwifery that you see in the hugely popular TV program, "Call the Midwife." Currently, it is mostly only IMs who are able to provide what Prime Minister David Cameron once called the "gold standard care" of birthing care. Due to staff shortages and budgetary pressures, very few NHS Trusts are able to provide this kind of care.
Currently, midwives practicing independently are unable to obtain affordable indemnity coverage. This has been the case since 2002. In fact, the last insurer withdrew from the market because there are too few IMs to make PII commercially viable in light of potential payouts. Subsequently, IMs are mandated to inform clients of their lack of insurance before booking as set out by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).
A statement on the Independent Midwives UK website says: "Currently there is no professional indemnity insurance available to independent midwives, which means we are personally liable for any negligence claim made against us. Some commercial cover was available until 2002 but the premiums kept escalating, despite an excellent claims history, until an annual premium was around 20,000 [English pounds] per midwife. As this was more than many independent midwives earned, most were forced to make the difficult decision to cease practicing or practice uninsured. There is no insurance available to either independent or employed midwives that will pay out if 'things go wrong'. Insurance is there if medical negligence is proved against a practitioner having or not having insurance does not mean that your care is any safer. IMUK is campaigning to ask the government to find a workable and affordable solution."
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