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We say midwives bill must be amended

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The Nurses and Midwives Bill must be amended before it becomes law. Mothers, midwives, birth groups, student midwives and academics are united in their support for these amendments. Women in childbirth need a bill that will, in effect:

(A) Give women greater access to midwives -- the experts in normal birth -- in a choice of settings, home, hospital or local birth centre and enable them to exercise their right to choice in childbirth.

(B) Keep midwives in midwifery and in Ireland by enabling them to practise in all areas of midwifery, not only in hospital settings, but also in the community, offering antenatal and/or postnatal care as well as home-birth services, like their counterparts in other EU member states.

The amendments we propose will ensure the development of midwifery through:

1. Empowering midwifery by treating it equally with other professions and legislating for its separate governance within the Board (see amendments to Section 24). Regulation, not subjugation, is what is required.

2. Meeting parents' needs by linking indemnity with registration, not statute (see amendment to Section 40). Public safety is ensured through competence assurance, viz., continuing professional development, peer review and audit, and not mandating insurance that may be inaccessible. This effectively criminalises clinical decision-making by midwives and will leave vulnerable women and their babies without care.

Elizabeth Bannon
Co-Director for Women's Services, Belfast
Maebh Barry
Lecturer in Midwifery, UL
Prof Cecily M Begley
Chair of Nursing and Midwifery, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin
Linda Biesty
Lecturer in Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin
Deirdre Daly
Lecturer in Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin
Declan Devane
Senior Lecturer, School of Nursing and Midwifery, National University of Ireland, Galway
Margaret Dunlea
Lecturer Midwifery, TCD
Vivienne Brady
Clinical Midwifery Fellow and Doctoral Student

Irish Independent