High Court upholds NMC’s decision on indemnity

By Julie Griffiths on 14 December 2017 NMC - Nursing and Midwifery Council Indemnity Independent Midwives

A senior High Court judge has upheld the NMC’s decision that the indemnity arrangement previously relied upon by some midwife members of Independent Midwives UK (IMUK) was inappropriate.

As a result of a three-day hearing, the judge found that the NMC registrar’s decision was lawful, fair and proportionate and that she was right to treat the protection of the public as her overarching concern.

The NMC found that the indemnity arrangement did not provide appropriate cover for midwives attending women in childbirth, because it would not be able to meet a claim for catastrophic injury such as cerebral palsy.

Where harm is caused by the negligence of a midwife, substantial damages may be awarded to reflect the fact that some of the injuries suffered at birth may leave babies with permanent physical and mental disabilities requiring a lifetime of care.

The judge recognised that while the risk of a high value claim was low, the risk was real and the nature of the risk was very severe.

NMC chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith said: ‘The Judge clearly recognised that the NMC conducted a thorough and fair investigation and took the appropriate action to protect the public.

‘We have a responsibility to make sure that all women and their babies are provided with a sufficient level of protection should anything go wrong.

‘I was clear that the indemnity arrangement relied upon by some independent midwife members of IMUK was inappropriate and did not provide the level of protection that women and their families need. I’m pleased that the Judge agreed with this decision.’

Since 2014 it’s been a legal requirement for all healthcare professionals, including midwives, to have an indemnity arrangement in place. The government brought in this requirement to ensure that there was adequate redress for women and families in the event of damage or injury caused by any failings in midwifery care.

A full judgement can be found here.