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'Potentially dangerous says RCM on trust checking eligibility of pregnant women'

11 October, 2016

'Potentially dangerous says RCM on trust checking eligibility of pregnant women'

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Reports of a new pilot scheme at St George’s University Foundation Trust are in the media today. The scheme asks women to show evidence of eligibility to receive maternity care as they book in to hospital.

Commenting, Cathy Warwick, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “This move by the trust is a concern. I am sure no trust would deny care to women in labour or who are pregnant and arrive at a hospital needing urgent care related to their pregnancy.  To be clear, the law says, and government policy states, that trusts must offer care to women in labour, irrespective of their immigration status in the country.

“On the wider level midwives also have more than enough to do without checking women’s eligibility and determining their immigration status. They are not border guards, they are healthcare professionals there to deliver clinical care to all women. This is not their job and never should be and we have been assured by the trust that they will not require them to do this. Their job is to care for the women who walk through the doors of their maternity unit and it is the responsibility of trusts to care for and treat these women.

“Most importantly this move could also be dangerous because it could deter women from seeking care in a timely fashion. This could potentially have a serious impact on the health of the mother and their baby and the outcome of the pregnancy.

“I would ask the trust to clarify their policy and to give assurances that all pregnant women who need care will receive it, no matter what their immigration status.”

In an update to the above comment the trust have contacted the RCM and assured us that midwives will not be expected to implement this should it become policy at the trust and the RCM is very glad to hear this. They have also stressed that this is not yet a policy at the trust but is something being discussed at Board level. The RCM does await the outcome of these board level discussions.

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