Indemnity arrangements for midwives
Midwives must have an indemnity arrangement appropriate for their role and the risks associated with their scope of practice
The cover must be sufficient to meet an award of damages if a successful claim is made against them.
For example, if an individual midwife's scope of practice is limited to teaching, they will only need to have an indemnity arrangement which covers the risks associated with teaching.
A midwife involved in any professional capacity in attending a woman in childbirth must have an appropriate indemnity arrangement which covers the full nature and extent of the associated risks.
There is only one level of involvement as a midwife in childbirth itself, as this is a protected function under Article 45 of the Nursing and Midwifery Order 2001. This means that it is an offence for any person who is not a registered midwife or a registered medical practitioner to attend a woman in childbirth, except in an emergency or as part of approved training for those professions. (See definitions below.)
This requirement would not prevent a midwife from supporting a family member or close friend during childbirth in a non-professional capacity; for example, as a birth partner, as long as they did not provide any midwifery services.
'Good Samaritan' acts, where someone provides first aid or other emergency assistance to an individual where there is no legal obligation to do so, are not professional practice for which an indemnity arrangement is required. This exception would not cover situations where a midwife had an existing professional relationship or agreement to provide any type of midwifery service.
Midwives doing voluntary work need to be registered with us and have an appropriate indemnity arrangement. Indemnity cover for voluntary work may be provided by some voluntary organisations or by the midwife's own indemnity arrangement. If the midwife is unsure, they should ask the organisation they are volunteering for, or raise the issue with the provider of their indemnity arrangement.
It is very important for midwives to understand that by signing the self-declaration they have specifically declared that they have an appropriate indemnity arrangement.
If we find out that a midwife is practising without an appropriate indemnity arrangement, we will remove them from the register. Removal from the register means that they will no longer be able to practise as a midwife.
In the Nursing and Midwifery Council (Midwives) Rules Order of Council 2012 (SI 2012 No. 3025):
'Attendance upon' – providing care or advice to a woman or care to a baby whether or not the midwife providing the care or advice is physically present; 'baby' includes an unborn baby during the antenatal and intranatal periods; 'childbirth' includes the antenatal, intranatal and postnatal periods.