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Indemnity provision for some independent midwives is 'inappropriate', says NMC

Around 80 independent midwives were told to find new indemnity arrangements or face removal from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register, after the regulator decided their scheme was ‘inappropriate’.
Midwives

Around 80 independent midwives were told to find new indemnity arrangements or face removal from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register, after the regulator decided their scheme was inappropriate.

The NMC said it took the unprecedented step following an investigation into an indemnity scheme used by midwife members of Independent Midwives UK (IMUK).

The regulator said approximately 80 members had been relying on an indemnity scheme that had inadequate funds to settle significant claims should harm come to a woman or baby during childbirth.

Responsibility to pregnant women

These claims would include rare cases of catastrophic injury, such as cerebral palsy

NMC chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith said the organisation absolutely supports a womans right to choose how she gives birth and who she has

Around 80 independent midwives were told to find new indemnity arrangements or face removal from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register, after the regulator decided their scheme was ‘inappropriate’.


Midwives face removal from the NMC register following an investigation
Picture: iStock

The NMC said it took the unprecedented step following an investigation into an indemnity scheme used by midwife members of Independent Midwives UK (IMUK).

The regulator said approximately 80 members had been relying on an indemnity scheme that had inadequate funds to settle significant claims should harm come to a woman or baby during childbirth.

Responsibility to pregnant women

These claims would include rare cases of catastrophic injury, such as cerebral palsy

NMC chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith said the organisation ‘absolutely supports’ a woman’s right to choose how she gives birth and who she has to support her through this.

‘But we also have a responsibility to make sure all women and their babies are covered with a sufficient level of protection should anything go wrong,' she added.

Ms Smith added that the NMC had been in talks with IMUK ‘for some considerable time’ to try and resolve the concerns over the indemnity provision.

‘Our priority has always been to ensure the safety of women and their families.’

Disagreements

IMUK released a statement saying that the organisation disagreed with the NMC decision, and that some of its members were considering legal action.

‘We have been advised that the decision the NMC has taken is unlawful and some individual members of IMUK are pursuing a legal challenge,' the statement read.

‘Their solicitors are awaiting a formal response from the NMC as to whether they will withdraw their decision. We cannot comment further on the proposed legal proceedings at this stage.’

The statement also said IMUK was confident the indemnity arrangements in place were appropriate and complied fully with the requirements of the law.

‘We are in urgent discussions with NHS England about the practical issues that the NMC’s decision has created in this regard. The midwifery director and chief nurse in NHS England are being supportive and are helping our efforts.’

Emotional trauma

Birthrights, a charity for human rights in childbirth also criticised the decision by the NMC.

In a letter to Ms Smith, Birthrights chief executive Rebecca Schiller said: ‘Beyond the very real physical health implications of this decision, it is causing emotional trauma to women and their families at an intensely vulnerable time.’

NHS England respond

An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘We are aware of the ongoing discussions between NMC and IMUK and understand that there are a number of women who have engaged the services of IMUK who will be affected.

‘IMUK will make every effort to support these women in seeking alternative, independent care (if that is their wish) and the NHS is ready to ensure that those women receive the care they need, should this not be possible.’


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