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62) MARCH WITH MIDWIVES: Open Letter to the Board and CEO of the Royal College of Midwives

2nd Apr, 2022 | Information



“We the undersigned seek the resignation of the RCM board and the CEO, with processes to elect a new board and CEO to be commenced as soon as possible; we await your early response.

Since the publication of the Kirkup Report and more recently the Interim Ockenden Report there has been a concerted attempt to undermine and smear midwives, the midwifery profession, and to deny the legitimate experiences and wishes of childbearing women who wish to retain autonomy over their own bodies and births. These attempts have been led by powerful actors in government and media. They have been biased and misogynistic in tone, given the reality of female physiology, and the sex of the vast majority of midwives and birth workers. Nevertheless there exists the irony that intervention levels in pregnancy and labour have never been higher in the UK, some hospital trusts have induction rates of nearly 50% and Caesarean Section rates of near 40%. The cases which are attributed to “normal birth ideology” are failures to escalate or refer appropriately, and do not offer proof that there is fundamental, wholesale failure in the physiology of birth”.

Despite the overwhelming evidence, demonstrated most recently by the Lancet series of reports, that optimal outcomes of physical, psychological and emotional health are consequent on physiological labour and birth with minimal intervention, recent published comment, interviews and blogs from the RCM suggest this evidence has been ignored. The majority of professional midwifery associations in the world continue to see their role as promoting and supporting the physiology of birth as reflected in our NMC Standards of Proficiency for Midwives. This view is supported by the World Health Organisation, FIGO, and the International Confederation of Midwives, and is associated with a promotion and strengthening of professional midwifery in countries where it is not present or robust.

The UK was among the first countries in the world to develop a strong midwifery profession and was historically regarded as having a maternity service to aspire to. The RCM has undermined and misrepresented the evidence regarding physiological birth and has allowed itself to indulge in the demonisation of the profession it was formerly presumed to represent”.