WITH a lack of commercial market indemnity solutions, 100s of Independent Midwives across the UK cannot work. As a result, this is limiting the birthing choices and birthing rights of women. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, women have been cautious to attend hospitals meaning they are in need of independent midwives. However, due to lack of funding, this is becoming more and more difficult.
Recently all independent midwives in the UK have lost their insurance, with the basic convoluted reason being ‘birth is too risky’. This has taken away many, many peoples choices for birth.
Childbirth Choices Matter (CCM) are a collective of women, doulas, NHS midwives and independent midwives (IMs) who have come together to strengthen the rights of women and birthing people to choose the circumstances in which they give birth to their babies, including place of birth and midwifery-led continuity of carer.
Their need to unite and campaign to protect women’s birthing choices, and for midwives to be able to provide maternity care that is personalised and safe, is now a matter of emergency, particularly during the global pandemic for several reasons.
The Government had been notified of the absence of insurance product to cover self-employed midwives and refused the request for assistance, stating that the request was ‘not a good use of public funding’. For the past two years, independent midwives have been using an American insurance provider, but this provider left the UK market. As a result, the UK’s self-employed midwives have not been able to provide labour and birth care to women wishing to use their services since June 30th.
With a 2014 legislation meaning any midwife wanting to work self-employed and outside the NHS would need indemnity insurance, it became almost impossible for midwives to obtain. From June 2020, self-employed midwives have seen premiums rise to £7500 per birth, creating a wealth divide between those who can access their services and those who cannot. Neither women nor midwives want this.
With now a more crucial time than ever for women to have a choice over their birthing rights and the NHS already overworked due to the pandemic, CCM are looking to raise money to support more midwives looking to work independently and support more women who need independent midwifery. It’s a win-win!
“We have the vision to create an insurance product and an access fund which will allow women and birthing people to access care from self-employed, professional midwives without being tied to the premiums set by commercial insurance companies. We understand that insurance is absolutely necessary for practising midwives and that the cover should be at a level that represents the claims that could potentially be made. We are therefore raising funds, across many streams of income to support this fully independent insurance product. We need a lot of money to achieve this, and we have a team of fundraisers working tirelessly to make it a reality.”
COVID-19 has increased the need for women to seek midwifery care outside of the NHS, and CCM wants to ensure this is an option available for the majority of women as it is the right pathway for them to achieve the birth experience they want and have a right to.