The former Independent Midwives Association, made up of individual Independent Midwives from throughout the UK, today announced the launch of their new organisation. The midwives have formalised as an Industrial and Provident Society to become Independent Midwives UK and have announced their official board members.
The patron of Independent Midwives UK is Baroness Julia Cumberlege, the untiring champion for maternity services who chaired the Expert Group producing the landmark “Changing Childbirth” report.
Independent Midwives UK press secretary, Virginia Howes, says, “We are at the beginning of a very exciting time. Two years ago Independent Midwifery, which has been around as long as babies have been being born, was facing extinction in a relatively short time. Since then with amazing public supported an awareness campaign and Government input we have turned a negative worry into a positive excitement and we may be about to make a real difference to the country’s maternity services.”
The Government’s response to the successful campaign, which drew awareness to the plight of the midwives, was to suggest the Independent Midwives contract their services into Primary Care Trusts. In order to do so the midwives had to become a formal organisation. Virginia, who also runs her own Independent Practice in Kent said, “We took the Government’s advice and started the processes they advised, now with their continued support our enthusiasm and our organisation is growing. Now it’s all falling into place, just like any baby growing and developing in the womb, Independent Midwives UK is ready to be born, to grow and become strong.”
In the autumn of 2006 Independent Midwives were informed that the Government intended to make professional indemnity insurance mandatory for all health care professionals. Independent Midwives are the only group unable to purchase insurance commercially and have been forced to practise without professional indemnity insurance (PII) since 2002 when the last available insurance product was withdrawn from the market.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 which is simply because of the nature of midwives work around birth. This is despite there being no cases of significant awards against Independent Midwives in the UK since 1994. Independent Midwives have not wanted to practise without insurance, but have had no choice.