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March 22, 2017

Judicial Review to Protect Independent Midwifery Begins

On the 17th March legal proceedings were served on the Nursing & Midwifery Council in a claim brought by IMUK members to ensure women can access the care and support they need at the most important time of their lives.

Who are IMUK?

Independent Midwives UK (IMUK) is a membership organisation for self-employed midwives who provide maternity services for women throughout their pregnancy, birth and post-natal period.

At a time when the NHS is facing a crisis in midwifery services, with those working in the system being put under extreme pressure, Independent Midwives provide a vital alternative choice for women. As Independent Midwives have autonomy over their work they are able to offer long-term, quality care for their clients.

Self employed  midwives are trained to exactly the same standards as NHS midwives and work to support women with the very best evidence-based care on a one-to-one basis.

Our clients are people from all backgrounds who want to choose their maternity care provider and ensure continuity of care throughout their pregnancy.

We believe in choice – choice for women and choice for midwives. Women should have the right to choose the care they receive just as midwives should have the right to work independently, like all healthcare professionals.

The NMC Ruling

There is legislation in place to require all health professionals to have professional indemnity insurance. Our regulator, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), ruled in December 2016 that IMUK’s indemnity scheme was no longer sufficient, despite it having been deemed suitable by two independent actuaries.

This decision is not based on evidence nor on our previous safety record. We have never received a complaint regarding our indemnity cover from either a client or another midwife. IMUK had chosen to use an indemnity product that mirrors the scheme used by the NHS.

For the last three months, we have been doing everything we can to put in place suitable alternative arrangements to ensure that IMUK’s clients can still safely enjoy the birth experience of their choice. However, as things stand, our members have been ordered by the NMC not to attend clients in labour, which has affected over 100 women. This continues to have a devastating impact on our members’ livelihoods and robs women of their right to choose how and where they give birth.

The midwifery profession is increasingly being undermined by a move towards centralized medicalized obstetric care. Despite research that reports the benefits of the independent midwifery care model, the NMC’s ruling seeks to further threaten the midwifery profession.

How can you help?

The impact of this ruling extends far beyond IMUK members and their clients. It undermines and threatens the entire midwifery profession and the rights of women to choose how they give birth.

We have been advised that this ruling is unlawful and an urgent legal challenge has been filed; the court is being asked to look at whether what the NMC has done is lawful and to rule that our indemnity cover is appropriate.

Individual members have made an application for legal aid to cover the considerable costs of this legal challenge. Unfortunately, it has not been possible to secure legal aid to bring this important case before the strict court deadline ran out. We therefore need to build up a fighting fund to pay the members’ legal fees.

We would be delighted if you would help fund this challenge by making a donation to GoFundMe.

For further details, please contact Kiran Nagendran (0203 772 2471, knagendran@bellpottinger.com)

Useful Resources

 

On the 17th March legal proceedings were served on the Nursing & Midwifery Council in a claim brought by IMUK members to ensure women can access the care and support they need at the most important time of their lives. Who are IMUK? Independent Midwives UK (IMUK) is a membership organisation for self-employed midwives who provide […]

 
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