Letter: Cheap labour

AS EVER,women's health is being undervalued ("Midwives: an endangered species?", 1 August). Midwives, responsible for bringing new life into the world, are paid pounds 15,000 a year to be on call 24 hours a day for a physically and emotionally demanding job. As a result, the profession is in crisis. I saw my first midwife at the Royal Free twice before she left to have her own baby. The second one (once I had moved to Lambeth) I saw three times before she quit and moved home to Edinburgh to look for different work. A fortnight ago there was a stand-in at the Lambeth Walk surgery, taken off the ward at St Thomas's Hospital. This week I have seen a freelance midwife (better-paid) who is leaving the profession to train as a solicitor, where her starting salary as a trainee will be the same as her present one after five years working for the NHS.

My baby is due in three weeks. I am planning a home birth in a pool but I need two midwives present. There is one left in the Waterloo Community Midwives Team out of six. One option for me is to hire an independent midwife to attend the birth, in or out of hospital, which costs pounds 2,000- pounds 4,000 for a year's care. That shows the market value of a midwife.


London SE11