by Matt Hoople
Fears that independent midwives may not be able to get insurance led to one getting a ducking.
Virginia Howes, who runs the Ashford-based Kent Midwifery Practice, waded into the River Stour in Canterbury to draw attention to the Save Independent Midwifery Campaign.
She was watched by midwives from across the county and some of their clients at the Weavers Restaurant while an effigy was placed in the restaurant's ducking stool.
A lack of insurance means hundreds of independent midwives up and down the country could be forced to stop work in the face of government guidelines by the end of next year.
The ducking stunt echoed the tradition of the fate of witches and midwives who were often treated with suspicion and fear in Medieval times.
Partner at Kent Midwifery Practice, Kay Hardie, said: “No one will insure us.
“We are a high risk group and the pot is small for any coverage because we work outside the NHS.
“We offer invaluable one-to-one care for pregnant women and many more are choosing alternative methods to give birth.
“We hope that the Primary Care Trusts will buy our services in the same way they do for GP services.
“In that way we would have insurance coverage.”