"I bought car insurance the other day. I cannot tell you off the top of my head what the level of indemnity I have purchased for the odd bang/scrape or if through negligent driving I cause a fatal collision. I know that I am insured and that the product sold to me is fit for purpose for the scope of my driving practices. Because that product was approved by insurance actuaries.
I hold a car and motorbike licence but not a HGV so didn't need to get insurance for that added risk.
Then, over the Xmas period, the DVLA wrote to me and gave me 5 working days to find alternative insurance because it feels that I ought to have a HGV cover, and if I didn't they would remove my licence to drive. "But I don't need HGV" cover I said.
"You don't have appropriate level of cover" the DVLA said. "Sign this declaration to say you will not drive on the motorway or we will remove your licence"
I need to drive on the motorway else I'll not get to where i need to be-plus I have passengers to journey with.
No time to get alternative cover while the correspondence happens, so declaration signed as cannot provide for my family without my drivers licence. Feel very sad and angry, some of my passengers are happy to still journey with me, without a motorway ride but others have to be left at the roadside alone and frightened.
Then it turns out that the DVLA cannot advise on the level of indemnity as they feel that's not the role of the DVLA, and to top it all off -the DVLA didn't even bother to look at the car insurance product as it was a bit too complicated for them.
Since 2014, all health professionals are required to have professional indemnity insurance in order to practice legally. In order to comply, independent midwives had to find and secure commercial insurance that did not exist. IMUK, a membership organisation for self employed independent midwives, worked with actuarial and medico-legal teams to create its own indemnity product, managed by a separate board, for their members.
A determination of what specifically constitutes appropriate cover was requested from both NMC and the Government, and both refused to advise, instead referring them to existing guidance on their website that it is for the midwife and the indemnity provider to determine what is appropriate according to the scope of their practice.
An investigation was launched shortly after the legislation changed, as a result of a complaint from a private midwifery company to the NMC, claiming the indemnity insurance used by IMUK members may not be sufficient for the highest level of claims.
IMUK have been trying to work with the NMC and the insurance provider to ensure the matter is resolved, and whilst hopeful that having shown the cover was in fact appropriate and sufficiently capitalised for any large claims (under common timescales), were unpleasantly surprised to have the final decision determine the insurance in place as "inadequate". Independent midwives using this insurance are no longer legally able to support women in labour, not even in an NHS setting in a doula or support role. To do so could leave the independent midwife open to legal proceedings and being struck off by their own regulator.
This ruling is disappointing on many levels, but not more so than for the women who are due to give birth imminently. Women who will have researched their options extensively And met with these care providers to ensure they are the right choice for them. Women who will have discussed in detail what insurance the care providers have.
"Allow women their rights during labour (Independent Midwives' crisis)" petition.
"Declare NMC action unlawful and replace with an organisation fit for purpose" petition.
What else can we do? Make your voice heard.
Write to your local MP to highlight this issue - click here for some example letters and a template.
Write to the NMC to complain and highlight just how unjust this ruling is and demand a way forward to give us back our choice! Click here for example letters (some responses we've had already) and a template.
Join IMUK as a "friend" member and show your support - here.