IMUK Loses Challenge Against NMC

Published on: 12/12/2017

In December 2016, The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) issued a decision that the indemnity cover that Independent Midwives rely on is not appropriate, despite it having been deemed suitable by two independent actuaries. That resulted in independent midwives no longer being able to support women during labour and birth, restricting support to antenatal and post-natal care only.

Individual members from the organisation IMUK pursued a legal challenge to persuade the NMC to withdraw their decision.  The court was asked to look at whether the NMC’s decision around indemnity cover was lawful and to rule that cover is adequate.

According to Jacqui Tomkins, IMUK’s chair:

“The numbers of midwives in general have been falling to an alarming level. The whole profession is feeling under stress. They also feel they are being undervalued for the very particular skills, learned over generations, that midwives bring. Many fear that, soon, midwives within the NHS will gradually be phased out, to be replaced with specialist nurses who will fit more easily into hospital systems.

Already, the tradition of a woman being attended by a single midwife who she can know and trust has gone. Nowadays, mothers-to-be are attended by whichever midwife is on duty. So gradually, the whole experience of giving birth will simply become part of obstetrics, seen as a medical procedure.

For all the strengths of the NHS, independent midwives work outside the organization precisely because they dislike the stress which it entails nowadays, and the requirement to make births fit within a system. Those concerns are however widely shared across the profession. Independent midwives have provided support and a professional service to those mothers who would prefer to give birth outside the hospital system, and who still value the ‘Call the Midwife’ gold standard.”

Today (12th December 2017), the IMUK’s legal challenge was deemed unsuccessful. The court has heard the evidence and decided that the NMC did not act unfairly, nor act unlawfully.

The IMUK said: “We believe that women deserve real continuity of care, respect and informed choice – including being able to choose their midwives. We also believe that the future lies in creating an insurance product for midwifery care that is women centred, that does not restrict women’s choices and that is ideally owned and run by women for women so that it is affordable for as many women as want it.  For this to happen we would need to find new ways of raising capital and we will need your involvement and support.  

We cannot tell you how inspired we have been by the support we have received from women across the UK and internationally. IMUK will now evaluate the ideas and options available to us and develop these for the New Year.”