Open letter requesting an urgent meeting with Health Ministers

Urgent meeting request with Independent Midwives UK (IMUK), Daniel Poulter and Jeremy Hunt – re: PII for Independent Midwives

Following IMUK’s meeting with David Foster on Friday 5th July, we write to request an urgent meeting with Dr Dan Poulter and Jeremy Hunt. 
IMUK were pleased to present Mr Foster with an insurance proposal for self- employed midwives - the first affordable and workable insurance solution obtained in almost 20 years, and a solution to the crisis presenting to women in the UK who wish to use an independent (self-employed) midwife. 
Our brokers are convinced that this insurance solution is workable and affordable for self-employed midwives.  In order for it to be sustainable IMUK are asking the government for capital; this investment is significantly less than the cost (in both GBP and affects to the maternity system) of independent midwives not getting insurance; it will ensure the captive is always able to provide an adequate policy; it will provide the solution to the fast-approaching deadline.  Supporting the IMUK captive will be an ideal way to meet Recommendation 20 of the Finlay Scott review. Mr Foster advised us this decision would need to be a ministerial one. 

Mr Foster was concerned that it would set a precedent for the government to insure other health care professionals, however, we reminded him that midwives are the only professional unable to obtain insurance from the commercial market, through no fault of our own.  We also reminded him that the government have supported a captive structure in the buildings area.  We are concerned about the level of knowledge the officials have surrounding the issue of independent midwives as we have seen and heard many inaccuracies; this is another reason why we urgently need to meet to explain details directly with you.

Mr Foster was quite clear there would be penalties for practicing after October 25th without insurance, despite the Minister’s assurance to “continue booking clients”.  We have pregnant women, midwives and an experienced, respected lawyer, who feel so strongly about this issue that they are asking to take their case to the European Court of Human Rights. Obviously, we do not want to be in the position of Hungary (when they lost against Ternovsky) and Ireland, which is currently going through the courts for refusing women homebirth services.  We are proud of the British midwifery system and it’s high standards and long for it to continue in this way.  Supporting this solution would mean women’s rights are being upheld and respected in Britain.

IMUK urgently request a meeting before ministerial annual leave: September is too late to get everything in place for the October deadline.  We need to discuss the insurance policy, the capital needed to make it workable, how that capital may be obtained and implemented, how women’s basic human right to choose their midwife can be met and how this can be implemented before Oct.   We remind our honourable colleagues that David Cameron himself argued “it would be utterly foolish to lose independent midwives”.  We have found a workable, affordable solution that with the correct capital can be running within weeks so are requesting your assistance.

Yours Sincerely the IMUK Board, Jacqui Tomkins, Erika Thompson, Virginia Howes, Amanda Garside, Angela Horler, Meg Miskin, Sam O Brien, Alan Parsons tel. 07828719278,

Background Information
From October this year, if self-employed midwives have not secured PII they will be unable to practice:   We believe if women are unable to have the choice to use an Independent Midwife, that this will have catastrophic effect on the UK maternity system and women’s human rights.
• The NHS will have to absorb independent clients into the system costing approx. £13 million
• Women wishing to birth outside of the NHS will birth unattended (the majority of which we know  do have risk factors)
• Women will seek illegal, unregulated and unqualified birth attendants, the result of which we know from other countries has devastating affect to maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality.
• Women will lose the right to choose their midwife and the standard of their maternity care independently of the NHS.
• Women who are traumatised by birth previously in the NHS will continue with this trauma.  We know post-traumatic stress is rising post childbirth
• The NHS will continue to be stretched and under staffed.
• Midwives will be out of business, having a further impact on other areas of the economy
• Skills and experience in maternity care will be lost instantly
• Women will fight for their birthing rights through the courts
• The UK will take a backwards step in maternity standards
• The government will not fulfil their role in Recommendation 20 of the Finley Scott review.
If insurance is found
• The NHS will continue to save £13 million a year
• Around 5000 already qualified midwives will be able to choose self-employed practice.
• 90% of the 5000 midwives who are not working because they cannot secure employment, due to budget cuts, are burnt out or are disillusioned with a system in which they cannot give adequate care said they would work self-employed with insurance.
• If just 2000 of these (who have already expressed an interest) do this the NHS could save up to £200 million a year
• Newly qualified midwives who are unable to secure employment (currently 20%) will have the option to be self employed
• Women retain a choice of maternity care just as there is in any other aspect of health care
• Women will have a safe, affordable alternative to the NHS
• Women will continue to benefit from the high normal birth rates and low instrumental and caesarean rates independent midwives provide, the benefits of which are massive for women and the future of the babies.
• If independent midwives are commissioned by the CCG’s the government will meet maternity matters targets (independent midwives currently meet and exceed all targets)
• NHS will continue to have support from independent midwives when staffing is low, or they need the midwifery skills independent midwives have retained
• The UK will continue to have a safe regulated, highly qualified midwifery standard.
• The government will uphold their promise of choice for their constituents.