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Free obstetrics in Germany is in danger: Because professional liability insurance is disproportionate to earnings, more and more midwives have to give up.
Will there be no freelance midwives in Germany in the future? As the German Midwives Association announced, premiums for professional liability insurance will be increased by 20 percent as of July 1, 2014. That would mean that a freelance midwife would have to spend 5,000 euros or more a year on insurance alone. Most freelance midwives will not be able to afford this and will therefore give up their jobs, says Birgit Dreyer, midwife and co-partner of the Eilenriede birthplace in Hanover.
Ms. Dreyer, is the situation really so acute?
The situation is acute. There are regions in Germany that no longer offer non-clinical obstetrics. In Hanover-Langenhagen, for example, the delivery room in the Paracelcus Clinic has closed. Smaller homes will no longer be able to hold out for long. And new young colleagues will no longer dare to step into freelance for reasons of existence.
Are all midwives affected?
The increase in professional liability insurance affects the midwives who offer obstetrics at home, in the birthing center or as midwives. The midwives are insured through the clinics, but often not sufficiently.
There were protests last year? Didn't they do anything?
The protests have made us more aware of the population. Some parties discovered us and made small inquiries to the federal government. Our fee regulation is not up to date. There are no regulations with the insurance companies. The question is: is this monopoly position allowed in Germany at all?
What are the consequences for parents in particular?
Long and difficult births, some of which are experienced as traumatic. Many medical interventions, procedures, medication. The babies react to it. And probably more caesarean sections.
Have there been supply shortages?
Yes of course. The delivery room on Sylt, for example, was closed. The women have to go to the mainland to give birth. To solve this dilemma, surgeons are trained in the Sylt clinic to do caesarean sections. Women are advised to choose exactly that.
Is it to be expected that politics will take up the issue?
Difficult to answer. We hope so.
Can we support parents?
We are starting to plan campaigns nationwide. For example, we need more media presence. That means we have to mobilize all families who work on radio, press and television. Maybe we will go on strike, because dark times will definitely come. Whereupon the families should be loud. If demos are planned, everyone should always go with them. (sb)