Save Independent Midwifery Campaign - Facts and Background

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Facts and Background Print

The Independent Midwives Association was founded in 1985 to disseminate information about, and support for, independent midwives, and to lobby for the traditional role of the midwife.

  • Independent Midwives are fully qualified midwives who have chosen to work outside the NHS in a self-employed capacity.  Independent Midwives are as strongly regulated as NHS Midwives and the vast majority of Independent Midwives work closely with their local NHS Trusts.
  • The midwife's role in its fullest extent encompasses the care of women during pregnancy, birth and afterwards. Independent Midwives offer a significantly higher level of personalised care than most NHS Midwives are able to at all of these stages.
  • Independent Midwives are able to offer an alternative to the medicalisation of birth that is evident in the increasing levels of intrusive monitoring, induction and caesarean sections taking place within the NHS, while having the expertise to judge when and where a birth requires medical intervention.

Independent Midwives have been unable to obtain insurance on the open market, but are experiencing increasing demand for their services from women who are looking for a greater level of support than the NHS can always offer.

  • Independent Midwives have been forced to practice without professional indemnity insurance (PII) since 2002 when the last commercial insurance product was withdrawn from the market.
  • Insurance is unavailable due to the small number of Independent Midwives and the potential for very high claims, even though there have been no cases of significant awards against Independent Midwives in the UK since 1994.
  • Independent Midwives have not wanted to practice without insurance; but have had no choice.  All Independent Midwives explain the situation clearly to clients to ensure they understand that they will not have significant recourse in the event of a negligence claim.
  • This is a situation that our clients accept, which underlines the importance they attach to the level of individualised care and support that Independent Midwives are able to offer compared to NHS midwives.

Legislation requiring PII must make allowances for those health professionals who cannot obtain insurance on a commercial basis.

  • We understand the motivation behind the Government’s proposal to require a wide range of health professionals, including dentists, pharmacists, ophthalmologists and Independent Midwives, to obtain Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII).
  • While Independent Midwives are unique in that they have been unable to source PII on the open market, the new regulations may create difficulties for those professionals insured through mutual bodies, such as the Medical Defence Union, whose liability must be limited in order to prevent bankrupting the organisation if a number of large claims need to be settled.
  • With so many health professionals being affected by the proposed regulations, it is important that any legislation requiring PII also ensures that the Government makes provision for health professionals who cannot obtain cover from commercial providers.
  • While many health professionals will be covered by the NHS Litigation Authority for the work they do for the NHS, the Government must guarantee cover for those practitioners who operate outside the NHS but are unable to purchase insurance at a reasonable price.
  • Without this guarantee, the legislation may prevent a range of independent health care professionals from being able to provide services to the public.