Midwives march over threat to independent service

MIDWIVES and mothers are set to march on the Scottish Parliament in protest over legislation they say will give women less choice over how they give birth.

MSPs are gravely concerned about the crisis-hit housing association. Picture: Kenny Smith
MSPs are gravely concerned about the crisis-hit housing association. Picture: Kenny Smith

New rules due to come into force across the UK in October mean all midwives will require professional indemnity insurance before they can practise.

But campaigners fear the costs of this will be too high for independent midwives, who work outside the NHS and are paid by women who want their services.

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The protest, organised by the Choose Your Midwife, Choose Your Birth Scotland group, will see mothers, pregnant women and midwives marching to highlight their concerns.

Campaigner Elaine Gunn, from Ratho near Edinburgh, employed independent midwife Carrie McIntosh to care for her during the birth of her second child Adam, who is almost two, following the difficult birth of her son Lewis, three.

Now pregnant with her third child, due in June, the 33-year-old business consultant is again using Ms McIntosh so she can give birth at home and know the midwife who will be delivering her baby.

Talking about her first labour, when she was induced, Ms Gunn said: “I didn’t enjoy the experience and I felt quite upset afterwards that I had been railroaded into something I didn’t think was in my best interests.”

She said this made her more determined to make the next pregnancy different so that she could build a relationship with a midwife and know she would be the one caring for her at every stage.

Ms Gunn said the independent midwife was “amazing”, seeing her regularly and supporting her when she fell ill during her pregnancy.

Ms McIntosh then helped her give birth at home, using a birthing pool to help ease her discomfort.

“The labour was amazing. It was one of the most amazing things that has ever happened to me. I did not enjoy it at the time, but afterwards I thought ‘Oh my God, look at what my body can do so long as you put it under the right conditions’,” she said.

Ms Gunn said the advantage of using an independent midwife – who charge around £2,800 for their services in Scotland – was knowing who would be with you during birth, rather than an NHS home birth where whichever midwife was on duty would attend.

Ms McIntosh said midwives without insurance would still be allowed to support women before and after birth, but the care during labour would have to be handled by an NHS midwife covered by insurance.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The requirement for all health professionals to have appropriate insurance is established by the European Parliament. The statutory regulation of midwives is reserved to the UK government.”