‘We’ll fight new in­sur­ance laws’

PROTESTS: Mer­sham mid­wives tar­get con­fer­ence

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - OPINION -

AN ASH­FORD wo­man play­ing a key role in the na­tional mo­bil­i­sa­tion of mid­wives took to the streets of Brighton last week for more di­rect ac­tion against the leg­is­la­tion threat­en­ing to shut them down.

Vir­ginia Howes and Kay Hardie, from Mer­sham, run the Kent Mid­wifery Prac­tice. To­gether they de­liver around 60 ba­bies a year through­out the county.

In March, the Ken­tish Ex­press re­ported that the prac­tice, along with the other 200 mid­wives in the coun­try work­ing in­de­pen­dently of the NHS, was un­der threat from a new law re­quir­ing all health pro­fes­sion­als to have full pro­fes­sional in­dem­nity in­sur­ance.

Be­cause of the huge po­ten­tial pay­outs for any mis­takes made while de­liv­er­ing ba­bies, it is im­pos­si­ble for in­de­pen­dent mid­wives to pay open mar­ket in­sur­ance pre­mi­ums, so in ef­fect, the new law would force them ei­ther to work for the NHS or go out of busi­ness.

Since then, both Kay and Vir­ginia have been help­ing to or­gan­ise the cam­paign to get the leg­is­la­tion amended, with Vir­ginia act­ing as spokesman for the In­de­pen­dent Mid­wives As­so­ci­a­tion.

Last Tues­day she joined 300 other women for a protest out­side the Metropole ho­tel in Brighton, where the Royal Col­lege of Mid­wives (RCM), the mid­wives’ union, was hold­ing its an­nual con­fer­ence.

Al­though many in­de­pen­dent mid­wives are mem­bers of the RCM, the cam­paign­ers say it has not given them the sup­port they need.

Shout­ing

Vir­ginia said: “It was fab­u­lous. We had a fan­tas­tic re­sponse and a great turnout of about 300 women, in­clud­ing mid­wives, moth­ers and grand­moth­ers.

“The po­lice were guard­ing the steps of the Metropole, so we stood out­side and shouted. Af­ter about half an hour of shout­ing, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the RCM came out, and even­tu­ally he un­der­stood that we were an­gry and we needed their sup­port.”

RCM spokesman Colin Beasley said: “We are ab­so­lutely sup­port- ive of them, and we have been and will con­tinue to press the Gov­ern­ment in or­der for them to con­tinue to prac­tice. There’s no doubt about it.”

How­ever, Vir­ginia re­mained crit­i­cal of the RCM, say­ing: “It’s easy to say that when peo­ple ask you, but un­til they do some­thing about it, we will be dis­sat­is­fied.

“They haven’t done any­thing. All they’ve done is say they are sup­port­ing us when the me­dia have asked them.

“Any let­ters that mem­bers have writ­ten to them they’ve ig­nored, they haven’t come to our meet­ings, and they haven’t writ­ten about it in their publi­ca­tions.”

De­spite th­ese dif­fi­cul­ties, Vir­ginia is op­ti­mistic about the prospects for the cam­paign. She said: “It’s taken two protests now to get the RCM on board.

“Now we’ve got a meet­ing planned with them, and with health min­is­ter Lord Hunt, and we’ve also met with Chris­tine Beasley, the chief nurs­ing of­fi­cer.

“It looks like things are tak­ing a more pos­i­tive turn,” said Vir­ginia.

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Mid­wives Kay Hardie and Vir­ginia Howes

Mid­wives protest out­side the RCM con­fer­ence in Brighton

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