Changes in insurance requirements for independent midwives could lead to a lack of choice for mothers-to-be.
The chief nursing officer is calling for all private midwives to obtain professional indemnity insurance within 18 months otherwise they will be forced to quit the profession. However, it is unlikely that private practising midwives will be able to find such cover because of the nature of their business.
Independent midwives were previously insured via the Royal College of Midwives but this cover was withdrawn in 1994 due to escalating premiums.
Mavis Kirkham, professor of midwifery at the University of Sheffield, speaking to the Guardian, explained: "It looks as though I can't practise if they are requiring this and there is no leeway, because there is no insurance. It is not just that we can't afford it - although when it was last offered it was more than a midwife's annual income. There is no company offering it at the moment."
There are concerns that the new insurance rule could threaten the labour choices available for mothers as well as adding to the national shortage of full-time midwives and the escalating pressure on the NHS maternity system.
What's better? Private or NHS healthcare?