Letter: Crisis in obstetrics

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Maureen Freely's article ("All shook up in a midwife crisis",14 May) correctly identifies the power imbalance between medicine and midwifery as potentially compromising the health of mothers and babies.

In the recent furore over the Caroline Flint case, however, the emphasis has been misplaced; rather than the safety of mothers and babies being jeopardised by overzealous midwives failing to hand over care early enough, the far more common risk faced by women in maternity hospitals is that of being damaged through inappropriate medical intervention.

Freely remarks that "there is nothing better than a birth managed by a good, responsive midwife". The low-tech midwifery approach to maternity care has been demonstrated to consistently result in the best outcomes for mothers and babies.

The midwives I teach and work with are highly trained, skilled and compassionate people who make great sacrifices in order to give women safe and appropriate care. Their pay after practising for several years is rarely more than pounds 16, 000, and often less.

My fear is that if the UK Central Council for Nurses, Midwives and Health Visiting continues to put competent, well respected midwives like Caroline Flint in the dock rather than supporting them for doing their best in difficult situations, the current acute shortage of practising midwives will worsen into a mass exodus.


Midwifery Lecturer

University of Salford,

Greater Manchester