By: 13 January 2014

Independent Midwives UK responded to the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) survey highlighting that almost a quarter of midwives working within the NHS would consider quitting their profession in the next 12 months because of poor pay and working conditions. The survey by the RCM found that staff were demoralised, disillusioned and burned-out in their roles.

Independent Midwives UK grows increasingly concerned that without financial assistance from the government to allow the continuance of self-employed midwifery within the UK after February 2014, options for both midwives and birthing women will be further compromised. Currently, independent midwifery saves the NHS £13m annually and relieves pressure by caring for women outside of the system.

IMUK Chair Jacqui Tomkins said: “Maternity units are closing because they do not have enough midwives to deliver care safely. This reduces or removes choice for women at a time of unprecedented demand.

“If self-employed midwives are not supported either, our concern is that optimum care will not only be unavailable within the NHS, but outside of it too. There will be fewer options and positions for midwives at a time when, despite the NHS shortage, 20 percent of newly qualified midwives will not secure a job within the NHS.

“Ensuring choice was a pledge by the government yet we appear to have less of it than ever within a maternity setting. We urgently appeal to the government to prioritise maternity care in the UK and recognise independent midwifery as a part of the solution.”

Independent midwives UK expect to hear from the Department of Health this month as to whether or not self-employed midwives will be supported by them to continue to practise after implementation of an EU Directive in February 2014 requiring them to have launched a Professional Indemnity Insurance scheme for all members. The insurance product is now available, but without government support, it will not be possible to launch, and thus the UK will lose autonomous midwifery.