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Health News

New EU directives put independent midwives under threat

From February, it will be illegal for them to be registered without professional insurance, which many cannot afford

Like Mary, the mother of Christ, pregnant women may be forced to give birth in unsafe circumstances, independent midwives warned yesterday. EU red tape means mothers-to-be in the UK may no longer be able to give birth at a place of their choice or with a midwife they felt safe with, said Independent Midwives UK (IM UK).

They protested against the changes by re-enacting the nativity outside the Department of Health in Westminster. From February, EU directives make it illegal for independent midwives to be registered without professional insurance. However, midwives are unable to pay the high-priced insurance themselves, and so will be unable to practise. There are worries that without the choice of independent midwives, many women would choose potentially dangerous free births instead of going into NHS hospitals.

IM UK chair Jacqui Tomkins said: "There's a 22 per cent rise in the UK birth rate. To take the independent midwife option away seems completely bonkers." IM UK has proposed that midwives self-insure from a joint fund into which they would pay. They asked the Government to contribute £10m to the fund arguing it would still save the expense of the NHS employing them directly.