Friday 27th April 2012
In a letter sent Friday (April 20th) to the incoming President of Hungary Dr. Janos Ader, the Royal College of Midwives’ President Lesley Page expressed the “full support of the RCM” for Hungarian midwives Ágnes Geréb and Ágnes Kiraly and requested a full pardon and cancellation of all criminal charges. In the two-page letter, she said: “It is our hope that the granting of clemency will help create the conditions for further reforms of maternity care in Hungary. This would add to the momentum created by the Homebirth regulations introduced by the Fidesz government and Dr Miklos Szocska personally in April 2011.
“It is also our hope that Hungary might become an example to other countries in the region, still burdened with the legacy of authoritarian systems of medical care, left over from the Communist period.
“We are aware that on February 10th, 2012, the Budapest Appeal Court announced the verdict in the case of Dr. Ágnes Geréb and four other Hungarian midwives. The terms of Ágnes Geréb’s sentence of two year imprisonment were tightened, and a ban on practising doubled to ten years. The Royal College of Midwives was deeply concerned to hear of this harsh verdict. We believe that allegations of negligence should not be judged by a criminal court, but by a professional regulatory body.”
“We would be glad to place at the disposal of you and the Government of Hungary, information about British and other international experience of maternity care reform, and in particular the part that professional regulatory organisations - in this case, a Board of Midwives - may play in dealing with allegations of negligence against their members.”
“We appreciate the efforts of the present Hungarian government which brought about the introduction of first-time homebirth legislation in 2011. However, the criminal proceedings against Dr. Geréb and the other midwives started before the implementation of the new regulations, and we believe that fairness and equity would demand that account now be taken of this.”
Gereb, founder of the Napvilág birthing centre, is a highly experienced gynaecologist, midwife and internationally recognised home birth expert. She has successfully helped deliver 3,500 babies at home. Hungarian law prevents midwives from attending births outside hospitals and Agnes was charged with “reckless endangerment of life committed in the line of duty”. On 5 October, 2010, Gereb was subjected to intense interrogation before being called to a closed court at 10pm. She appeared in an open court on 12 October, shackled in leg chains and handcuffs, accused of negligent malpractice.
For more information contact the RCM Press Office on 020 7312 3456 or email email@example.com
Notes to editors
The Royal College of Midwives is the voice of midwifery. We are the UK’s only trade union and professional organisation led by midwives for midwives. The vast majority of the midwifery profession are our members. The RCM promotes midwifery, quality maternity services and professional standards. We support and represent our members individually and collectively in all four UK countries. We influence on behalf of our members and for the interests of the women and families for which they care. For more information visit the RCM website at www.rcm.org.uk.
For more information about Gereb’s campaign, please visit: