News story

Independent midwives: insurance options outlined

Department of Health decides that funding Independent Midwives UK members’ insurance will not give patients protection.

This follows independent advice that the business model proposed by Independent Midwives UK is unlikely to be successful in providing long-term protection for patients, regardless of the amount of funding provided.

The timing of the decision has been driven by a new EU Directive. Soon all regulated healthcare professionals, including independent midwives, will require indemnity insurance to continue to practise.

Pregnant women will have peace of mind that their midwife is covered by insurance should anything go wrong. The independent advice is clear that the business model proposed by Independent Midwives UK is unlikely to be successful in providing long-term protection for patients, regardless of the amount of funding provided.

Independent Midwives UK put forward a proposal for indemnity insurance covering independent midwives to the Department of Health requesting £10 million in funding.

Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said:

This Government supports personalised one to one care in maternity, that’s why we’ve invested in over 1,500 additional midwives since 2010 with a further 5,000 in training. In that context IMUK represents approximately 150 midwives, around 0.4 per cent of the 41,000 midwives practising in the UK.

All patients should expect that their doctor, midwife or healthcare professional is properly insured so that they are protected if things go wrong. We are clear, and have received independent expert advice, that IMUK’s proposal does not represent value for money for the taxpayer, and will not be successful in providing long-term protection for women.

We have put resources into assessing IMUK’s proposal and helping them find solutions that will allow them to continue to practise – and would also welcome them into the NHS if they chose that option.

The issue dates back to 2010, when a government review chaired by Finlay Scott recommended that all regulated health professionals should be insured so that patients are protected. There have been cases where independent midwife deliveries have gone wrong, and mothers have not been able to access compensation for the additional care their babies need as a result. More recently, the Keogh review of cosmetic surgery highlighted the dangers of inadequate cover.

The need to comply with the new EU Cross Border Healthcare Directive is why the government is introducing these changes now.

Alternative solutions for independent midwives to get affordable indemnity insurance are available, such as setting up social enterprises. These mean that no independent midwife will be left unable to work.

Independent midwives in some areas of the country have already formed organisations such as social enterprises and small and medium sized businesses to buy the insurance. These organisations, such as Neighbourhood Midwives and One to One Midwives, mean midwives can have their independence and offer mothers and babies safe, quality care which is covered by compensation should anything go wrong. They can also bid for NHS contracts once they have developed a strong delivery record.