A doula who supports other women through birth has recorded a song to help independent midwives who have been unable to work due to a lack of available insurance.
IMUK, the membership organisation for independent midwives in the UK, said there are currently no viable insurance options to allow members to attend births.
Nickita Starck, 34, who works as a doula and a singer, hopes her single Breathe Again will help raise funds to set up a new insurance product for independent midwives.
Jacqui Tomkins, chair of IMUK, said the insurance company used by IMUK members since 2018 withdrew from the UK market last June “as a result of an advancing Brexit”.
She said other insurers pulled out of negotiations as Covid-19 business claims were keeping them too busy to consider new business.
“There was a proposal from one company to offer cover, similar to that we had had previously, but the fee was quoted as £7,500 per home birth,” said Ms Tomkins.
“As you can appreciate, there was no way this was feasible to accept.”
She said the lack of indemnity available coincided with an increased demand for the services of independent midwives.
This is in part because expectant mothers “wish to avoid entering hospitals during the Covid-19 outbreaks, but also because many NHS trusts have withdrawn their home birth services”, said Ms Tomkins.
“This is leaving many women with little or no choice.
“Many have felt it is safer to birth unassisted than to enter a hospital during a global pandemic.”
Singer Ms Starck, of Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, is supporting the Childbirth Choices Matter campaign which is run by the maternal and newborn health and rights charity White Ribbon Alliance.
She said: “My mission is to get independent midwives back into work.”
Ms Starck said she hopes to help raise funds for a new insurance product and to “spread awareness of autonomy in childbirth”.
Kay King, executive director of White Ribbon Alliance UK, said: “We have explored all of the options available in the commercial insurance market and nobody is willing to insure us for independent midwifery.
“If they can provide insurance, they are suggesting premiums of around £7,000 per birth.
“This would be on top of the cost of hiring a midwife and is totally unimaginable and inaccessible, pushing self-employed midwifery into the remit of only available to the very wealthy.
“We have an underwriter who can develop a brand new insurance policy, one that we would own and run, so it would mean that the money paid in for premiums per birth – more in the region of £500 to £1,000 – would all add up to the pot of available money in the insurance bank.
“We can launch this product with £3 million, which is indicative of an average payout for a case of liability, which we must add has never been made against an independent midwife.
“As soon as we have the money, we can launch the product, midwives can take up the product and return to legally working in the UK.
“We will then continue to raise funds to ensure that we can support people on lower incomes to access midwifery from an independent midwife.”
Ms Starck, who records as Nickita, will release her single Breathe Again on Mother’s Day, March 14.
For details on the Childbirth Choices Matter campaign, see www.childbirthchoicesmatter.co.uk
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