Valerie Gommon Midwife’s Blog

Archive for the ‘NHS’ Category

Very sadly it looks fairly certain that Independent Midwifery will end in October 2013.  The Government and Nursing and Midwifery Council have for a long time been recommending that Independent Midwives should have professional indemnity insurance (negligence insurance) despite it not being commercially available in the marketplace i.e. insurers do not provide this insurance for midwives.  You can read more about the current situation here http://www.independentmidwives.org.uk/?node=11615

An E.U. Directive is now due to come into force to implement this change and our current information is that it will be illegal for us to practice without professional indemnity insurance from October 2013.  This means that women will be denied the choice of choosing an Independent Midwife and we will be denied the choice of working independently and will be forced to stop practising or to return into the NHS.

The Independent Midwives UK organisation has been working tirelessly for years to find a solution and it is just possible that an eleventh hour solution will be found but this is now looking unlikely.

A group of midwives have formed an organisation called Neighbourhood Midwives www.neighbourhoodmidwives.org.uk/ and are working towards setting up an employee-owned social enterprise organization, to provide an NHS commissioned caseload midwifery homebirth service, based in the local community.  This may prove to be a workable alternative to Independent Midwifery but at present (if it comes to fruition) the service will only be able to accept “low-risk” women and this is of concern to all of us who have supported women with more complex situations, for example first time mothers, vaginal birth after a previous caesarean, twins, breech birth and women who are not deemed “low risk”.  The aim of Neighbourhood Midwives will be to extend their remit to include more women as soon as possible.

There is already a precedent for this type of care as One to One Midwives in Liverpool www.onetoonemidwives.org have already managed to set up a caseloading midwifery service (similar to independent midwifery in that a woman will care for a caseload of women throughout the whole of the pregnancy, birth and postnatal period) within the NHS.

It is a very sad time for midwifery and for women’s choice, but perhaps good things will come out of it, I certainly hope so.

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PRESS RELEASE ISSUED 8th December 2011 by IM UK

RESPONSE TO CONTROVERSY OVER
PRIVATE MIDWIFERY PROVIDER:

SOCIAL ENTERPRISE PROVIDES THE ANSWER
IM UK reads with interest the mixed reactions to news of a contract between private midwifery provider One to One (Northwest) Ltd and NHS Wirral.  The service offered is one the NHS can rarely deliver: continuity of care from a midwife the woman knows, through pregnancy, birth and postnatally. However, concerns have been expressed about the impact of profit-driven private providers on the NHS.

“IM UK believes that the answer lies in social enterprise midwifery: continuity of care delivered by an organisation run by midwives and service users for the benefit of the local community,” states Annie Francis of IM UK.

“That is why we are establishing a social enterprise, named Neighbourhood Midwives, to offer local, community based midwifery services.  Care will be free at the point of access for women but provided by a social enterprise, whose values and culture are firmly rooted in a social mission and purpose. We are well down the path and are ready to provide services from April 2012.

“We are keen to be fully integrated into the whole maternity care pathway, ideally through the planned networks currently being discussed. We will be able to offer care to women planning a homebirth but often unable to access this choice because of current shortages of midwives within the NHS.”

Historically, insurance issues have been a barrier for not-for-profit providers.  During recent debates on the Health and Social Care Bill, Baroness Julia Cumberledge emphasised the need for social enterprise organisations such as Neighbourhood Midwives to be able to access insurance via the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA). 
For further information contact:
Annie Francis
07977695948
annie.francis@independentmidwives.org.uk

Jill Crawford
07870924857
jill.crawford@independentmidwives.org.uk

Where to start?  Every day is different, so I’m going to give you a flavour of the sort of things I get up to.

Of course I have antenatal appointments; from the first tentative telephone enquiry I then arrange to meet up with a potential client (usually for an hour or so) so that we can discuss their past experiences, their hopes for this pregnancy, their concerns and most importantly so that they can get a “feel” as to whether they actually like and trust me.  Once a couple have decided to book me as their midwife I then usually give all their antenatal care in their own home (although I have done antenatal visits in The Bank of England medical room!).  The format of visits is that I carry out all the usual blood tests, urine and blood pressure checks, but also leave a lot of time for discussion so that over the course of the pregnancy we cover issues such as waterbirth, Vitamin K, when to call me and so on.

My clients come from a wide area – I am happy to take clients who live within approximately an hour’s radius of my home in Leighton Buzzard – so I do spend a fair bit of time driving, as well as liaising with G.P.’s and hospitals where necessary.

Four times a year I jointly organise an Antenatal Exhibition, this is an opportunity for pregnant couples to gather information about breastfeeding, pregnancy yoga, cloth nappies and the like.  We also organise Birth Preparation Workshops and am often to be found at the Community Desk in Central Milton Keynes on hand to speak to expectant parents and also regularly attend Study Day’s and midwifery meetings to ensure that I keep myself up-to-date with current research.

Obviously I spend much of my time being “on-call” for births.  My own family are now pretty much grown-up and the commitment isn’t as big as one might imagine as I rarely have more than two births during a month – it is important that I don’t over-commit myself as the whole point of what I do is that I guarantee to be there for the birth.  Babies don’t always read the text books though!  I have had three births in one week, as of course some babies do come early and some come late!  As you will appreciate, the birth is the big event, and it can on occasion go on for some time.

Baby being here doesn’t mean that my job ends!  In fact, postnatal visiting is often one of the busiest times as the family may need quite a lot of support in the early days.  The majority of my clients choose to give birth at home; however some either need to, or choose to give birth in hospital.

I visit my clients for up to four weeks postnatally and it is a joy to see the baby thriving and although discharging clients is always tinged with sadness it is also great to know that I have played a part in helping the family on to the next stage of their life.  (I do usually keep in touch, perhaps not as often as I would like, but I often get e-mails and photographs and usually pop in when I’m passing!).

So, in summary I guess the main differences between me and an NHS midwife are that you are buying my time; antenatal visits usually take around an hour and a half (instead of perhaps 10 – 15 minutes at your local surgery), are arranged more frequently and take place at a time and place to suit you. Most importantly you will receive full continuity of care – I will see you at each visit to build our relationship and plan your care and you will know that (barring exceptional circumstances) I will be with you in labour and available 24/7 for urgent help.

I am always happy to discuss anything that you are concerned about; please do feel free to call.

Written by Valerie Gommon, BA (Hons), RM, Independent Midwife

www.3shiresmidwife.co.uk 01525 385153

I guess this may be more useful if you are planning to hire an Independent Midwife as with the NHS there is less choice, but you still do have a choice of midwife and should remember that if you don’t get on with your midwife you can ask the local Supervisor of Midwives (at the local maternity unit) to help you to find a new midwife.

If looking for an Independent Midwife, I would suggest that you start by looking at www.independentmidwives.org.uk where you can enter your postcode to find the midwives who live closest to you.  This website will then lead you to look at the midwives own websites and you should get a “feel” of the midwives from their websites.  The next step is to email or telephone your favourite midwife(s) to have a chat with them, again this should help you to gauge whether they might be the right midwife for you.

The midwife will want to know where you live (to ensure that she is able to travel to you), she will also want to know when your baby is due (to ensure that she is free at that time) and whether it is your first baby.  If you have had a baby/babies before I would expect her to ask about your experience.  She will also be keen to know where you plan to give birth.

Questions you may like to ask of the midwife include:

How long have you been a midwife? / An Independent Midwife?
Do you like homebirths/waterbirths?
Do you have additional skills (hypnosis training etc)?
What would happen if my baby is breech/I am expecting twins?
What is your normal birth rate?
What is your caesarean rate?
What is your breastfeeding rate?
What is your homebirth rate?
What is your transfer rate?
How much do you charge?
What can I expect from you?
Antenatal care? Labour and birth care? Postnatal care?

I would expect an Independent Midwife to outline the issue of the lack of professional indemnity insurance to you.

If you enjoy speaking to the midwife, I would suggest that the next course of action might be to arrange a consultation.  The midwife will usually be happy to come to your home to meet you and your partner to discuss things in more detail.  Many midwives make a small charge for this meeting to cover their time and petrol costs (this meeting make last a couple of hours) and will be an opportunity for you to ask any questions of the midwife and again to enable you to decide whether she is the right midwife for you.  Most midwives will deduct this fee from the final balance if you decide to book with them.

Some women do “interview” a couple of midwives, and this is perfectly acceptable and perhaps a sensible approach as it will be an important relationship.

An Independent Midwife’s fee may seem expensive, particularly when you can get a similar service for free on the NHS, but I always say to clients that you won’t have many babies and it is important to get things right!  It may be better to employ a midwife and wait a bit longer for the new car or foreign holiday!  An Independent Midwife will usually give you a lot more time than an NHS midwife is able to; she will see you more frequently and give you longer appointments.  The other main benefit is that you will see the same midwife throughout your pregnancy, birth and postnatal period.

I wish you well in your decision-making whether you choose an NHS or Independent Midwife, and if I can be of any help to you please feel free to email info@3shiresmidwife.co.uk

After the recent emergency budget the Government has been accused of hampering efforts to employ more midwives after it unveiled a two-year pay freeze for workers in the public sector.  www.nursingtimes.net/nursing-practice-clinical-research/clinical-subjects/midwifery/pay-freeze-could-hit-midwife-efforts-says-rcm/5016301.article

The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) this week expressed concern that parents trying to raise a family will bear the brunt of the cuts – http://bit.ly/cc81Zy.  Cuts planned include:

  • child benefit will be frozen for three years
  • a cut in child tax credit for those on combined income of over £40,000
  • health in pregnancy grant (£190) abolished
  • Sure Start grant restricted to only the first-born child
  • Lone parents to look for work when youngest child goes to school.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) are suggesting that midwives carbon-monoxide test women to check whether they are smoking – http://bit.ly/bTmg83.  Is this helpful or “policing”?

NICE suggest that every expectant mother should be tested during her pregnancy to enable smokers to receive advice on quitting.  Whilst this might be a positive intervention there is also concern that some women may not engage with midwives if they are seen to be “policing” and judgemental.  It is certainly something that will need careful consideration and sensitive handling as many hard-to-reach clients are also smokers and it would be easy to alienate these women further.

The NHS has made huge attempts to help women stop smoking http://smokefree.nhs.uk/smoking-and-pregnancy/

A baby born to a smoker is:

  • Twice as likely to be born prematurely
  • More likely to suffer from placenta problems around the time of birth
  • Three times more likely to be underweight at birth (even if born on time)
  • More likely to be a victim of cot death.

Whatever stage of pregnancy it is never too late to give up – you and your baby will benefit immediately.  You can call the NHS Pregnancy Smoking helpline 12pm to 9pm, 7 days a week 0800 169 9 169


Well, the snow continues, but so does work … I did cancel a non-urgent appointment that was an hour’s drive away, but other than that it is business as usual.

I admit that it is daft to go out unnecessarily, the roads have been dreadful at times and I have been mighty glad to get home some days, but most days the roads are fine if you exercise caution and drive slowly.

On Saturday night I was just going to bed when I received a call from a concerned father-to-be.  His wife was in early labour and they planned a homebirth.  When he called to request a midwife to attend he was told that homebirths were cancelled due to the weather conditions and that they should make their way into hospital. 

The man was distressed that they might need to change their plans and angry that the NHS was letting them down.  Okay, so there was a little snow on the ground, but the main roads were clear and he felt that it was an excuse.

Fortunately a friend suggested he give me a call and I was able to go out to them.  I got there without difficulty, and was able to spend the night with them.

I appreciate that we have to consider the safety of the health professionals – but we also have to consider the safety of the mother and baby – a baby born unexpectedly en route to a hospital would not be good in present conditions!

I am happy to say that I went to see the couple yesterday and mother and baby are doing fine.  I came away clutching a bottle of champagne, so I think they were pleased with me!


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