Midwifery in the UK: How do we move midwifery led care from fringe to mainstream?

Elsevier Science Bv
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Women And Birth, 2013, 26 (3), pp. 165 - 166
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For just over a year I have been President of the Royal College of Midwives. The RCM is both trade union and professional organisation for midwives and maternity support workers in the UK and has over 41,000 members. The vast majority of midwives are members. The RCM is influential with government in all four countries of the UK; England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Each country has strong woman centred maternity policies and recognises the crucial role of midwives, and midwifery as an autonomous profession. The Royal College of Midwives has close collaborations with the medical colleges. As President I have visited midwives, students in maternity services and universities in each of the countries of the UK. I have also made visits overseas to Hungary, Russia, Ireland, Switzerland and Hawaii. During the past year I was also Geoffrey Thorburn Visiting Professor, invited by the Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand, to lecture in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Tasmania. In this editorial I will describe what I have seen in many visits as President to midwife led services in the UK and abroad, how it resonates with current accumulating evidence of the effect of midwife led care, and the irony that despite this evidence provision is limited to a few women and support for normal birth is often difficult to find. Midwife led care rather than being mainstream as it should be is often on the fringes of maternity care, an add on. I will focus on the central importance of widening access to midwife led care as a way of resolving one of the major problems of maternity services in the UK and much of the world, a low normal birth rate and a high intervention rate.
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