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Natural home-birth under threat as independent midwives face insurance crisis
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British women may not be able to find a midwife who will help in a natural birth at home after July

British women may not be able to find a midwife who will help in a natural birth at home after July. That's when new EU regulations come into force that make professional indemnity (PI) insurance mandatory-and independent midwives, who make home visits, desperately need to find a benefactor or two who will underwrite their PI scheme to the tune of lb1m.

Despite pre-election promises by prime minister David Cameron, the Conservative government will not support the midwives-so they need to find a group or benefactor who will provide surety to the scheme.

"It doesn't mean someone has to physically hand out lb1m. They just have to be prepared to act as guarantors to that value in case there are major claims made against a midwife," said Katharine Graves, a spokeswoman for Independent Midwives UK (IMUK), which represents the UK's 180 independent midwives.

Without this guarantee, the independent midwives will have to stop practising in the UK, which means women who want a home-birth will do so unassisted, which could be dangerous, and so will be urged to have the delivery in a hospital. IMUK's chairwoman Jacqui Tomkins says that around 3,000 mothers who would otherwise have a home-birth will instead have to go to an already over-stretched NHS every year.

Up to now, independent midwives, who have broken away from the NHS in order to help women have natural births at home, have not been insured, and have been personally liable for any claim for medical negligence.

  • If you are interested in helping provide some or all the lb1m surety for the IMUK PI scheme, please contact Amanda Garside on 07854 556717, or email: information@imuk.org.uk

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