Midwives went on strike for four days

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Poor working conditions: midwives on strike in Schleswig-Holstein

As early as March, the Midwives Midwives Association reported that fewer and fewer freelance midwives offer obstetrics and that the profession as a whole is under threat. Now the midwives in Schleswig-Holstein are planning a strike to draw attention to the problems of their profession.

The midwives in Schleswig-Holstein will stop working from May 2nd to May 5th and will not carry out any preventive examinations, birth preparation or postnatal care. With the four-day strike, the midwives want to draw attention to the shortcomings in working conditions and increase the pressure on health insurance companies and politics. In particular, the massive increase in liability premiums is causing considerable problems for numerous freelance midwives. The German Midwifery Association (DHV) had already pointed out the financial difficulties of the midwives last year and initiated an online petition to receive care for midwives close to home.

Midwives give up postpartum care and obstetrics More and more midwives give up freelance postpartum care and obstetrics,
warned Margret Salzmann, chair of the Schleswig-Holstein midwifery association. This is due to the fact that premiums for professional liability insurance for midwives have more than tripled since 2007, causing the average net hourly wage for a home birth to fall below five euros, emphasized Salzmann. In order to draw attention to the grievances in their professional situation, the midwives in Schleswig-Holstein have now decided to go on strike for the first time. From May 2nd to May 5th, no preventive examinations, birth preparation or postnatal care will be carried out. The approximately 550 Schleswig-Holstein obstetricians are still available for emergencies and spontaneous births. The strike will increase the pressure on health insurance companies and politicians to do something about the inadequate working conditions in the midwifery profession, explained Margret Salzmann. "The drastic increase in the professional liability premium for the self-employed in the past year and the fact that there has been no increase in fees since 2007, when our self-government began," exacerbated the professional situation of obstetricians, emphasized the chairwoman of the Schleswig-Holstein midwifery association, advocate of the around 630 midwives in Schleswig-Holstein.

Midwives suffer from the unreasonable working conditions Every fifth freelance midwife in Schleswig-Holstein (20 percent) has already given up on obstetrics because of the unacceptable professional situation, said the chairwoman of the Schleswig-Holstein Midwifery Association. This is significantly more than the national average, although according to the German Midwifery Association, around 15 percent of obstetricians across Germany have given up the centerpiece of their work since July 2010 because of the high costs involved. Given the impending shortage of midwives, home births or childbirth in the birthing center could become impossible in the future, explained the chairwoman of the Midwifery Association Middle Franconia, Steffi Kuntze. Even today, many midwives only provide prenatal care and aftercare, but are not included in the actual birth in the hospital, although according to the German Midwifery Association (DHV), the relationship of trust between midwife and mother-to-be plays a particularly large role, especially at birth.

German midwifery association is fighting for the preservation of care close to home. According to all association spokespersons, many obstetricians give up their work. Because the increased liability premiums led to freelance midwives paying around 37,000 euros a year for their insurance, with an average annual income of around 14,000 euros, said the chairwoman of the midwifery association Schleswig-Holstein. According to Margret Salzmann, both the insurance premiums and the remuneration for the services require a significant adjustment in order to make the job more attractive again. The German Midwifery Association had already fought with an online petition last year for the maintenance of midwife care close to home.

186,356 signatories joined the DHV's request last year, which means that the petition received the most supporters of all online petitions submitted to date. "The Ministry of Health then commissioned a study on nationwide care," said DHV spokeswoman Edith Wolber. The Federal Minister of Health Philipp Rösler (FDP) also promised to convene a round table with representatives of the health insurance companies and the midwifery association to address the problems of midwives. Little has happened so far, however, and more and more obstetricians are giving up their jobs in the meantime, warned the chairwoman of the Bavarian State Midwifery Association, Astrid Giesen in March. The expert added: "I don't think we can bring women back on board who are gone once", even if the remuneration and insurance regulations are subsequently changed. The complaints of women are likely to increase in the future because "they can no longer find midwives who look after them close to home during pregnancy, childbirth and the puerperium", DHV spokeswoman Edith Wolber emphasized. On the international midwifery day (May 5th), the obstetricians want to take to the streets in Schleswig-Holstein and, together with parents and children, to give more emphasis to their demands for better working conditions. (fp)

Read on:
Midwifery profession is under threat
Warning of lack of midwives

Image: Hartmut 910 / pixelio.de

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