What the UK midwifery leadership has in common with Donald Trump: they’re bullies.

Stop Bullying

Over the last few days British newspapers have been filled with articles about Royal College of Midwives shuttering their “Campaign for Normal Birth.”

One of the best appeared yesterday in the The Guardian.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]They smash things up, refuse to accept responsibility, then blame everyone else for their own failings.[/pullquote]

The announcement by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) on Saturday that it will finally abandon its “normal birth” campaign is overdue but welcome. By promoting “normal” over medical births, the campaign has for too long dangerously implied that a non-medical birth is superior to one in which doctors are involved. Given that we have had firm evidence for more than two years that, in the very worst cases, normal birth ideology has contributed to the tragic and unnecessary deaths of women and babies, the only question is why it has taken the RCM so long to act.

As the piece notes ominously, the RCM leadership, while technically dismantling the campaign, appears to have no intention of stopping it.

Even as it ends the campaign, its chief executive has denied there may be a link between it and the sort of dangerous practice seen in Morecambe Bay. One of its honorary fellows has announced she will launch her own “normal birth” campaign as a response to the RCM moving away from this language.

They are right to worry. In my interactions with the midwifery leadership and their supporters on social media, I’ve seen no evidence that they have learned a single thing. They deny responsibility, refuse to mention let alone apologize for the countless preventable deaths at their hands, and engage in never ending congratulations of themselves and each other for their purported selflessness and commitment to women’s rights and desires.

They remind me of nothing so much as our execrable president Donald Trump. And although they aren’t leaders of the free world, they have the power of life and death over many people.

When I talk about the midwifery leadership, I want to be clear about who I mean. I’m talking about Cathy Warwick, the former head of the RCM, Sheena Byrom, often its public face, Lesley Page, the current head, premier midwifery apologist Milli Hill of the Positive Birth Movement, Soo Downe, Laura Godfrey-Isaacs and the fawning coterie with which they surround themselves.

How is the RCM leadership like Donald Trump?

Let me count they ways.

1. Although they purport to care about the people they are supposed to serve, they care only about themselves.

As I noted many times in the past, I am a cynical person. I’ve worked in the highest reaches of clinical medicine, and I’ve met a lot of people whose egos could barely fit into a conference room, but I’ve never seen such blatant self dealing and disregard for patients as I’ve observed in the UK midwifery leadership. Babies and mothers are dead. Multiple investigative panels have concluded they are the cause, yet they don’t have an ounce of shame.

Just like Donald Trump. Trump epitomizes self-dealing corruption. He apparently views the presidency as an opportunity to enrich himself. He demonstrates blatant unconcern for those he is supposed to protect and serve.

2. They smash things up, refuse to accept responsibility, then blame everyone else for their own failings.

Trump is legendary for his refusal to acknowledge his own failings, but the UK midwifery leadership is giving him a run for the money. They brazenly ignore the growing pile of tiny dead bodies (and large dead bodies of mothers, too). They literally ignore them. They don’t mention them, don’t acknowledge them, don’t accept responsibility for deaths at their hands. Despite official reports — which the RCM does not deny — that maternity negligence claims have soared and liability payments have rocketed to over £1 billion, they insist these reports are the products of their enemies, or worse. Trump claims that reports of his failings are “fake news.” UK midwives go farther, refusing to accept or acknowledge that they are news at all.

3. They exist in a bubble, surrounded by sycophants, banning anyone who disagrees.

Twitter is the Fox News of UK midwives. It allows UK midwives to recuse themselves from reality and reward themselves with a never ending round of self-congratulation. That rewarding feedback loop is infinitely more gratifying than facing the injuries and deaths that occur because of UK midwives overweening self-regard. Twitter allows them to customize their surroundings by blocking anyone who might intrude (laypeople and professionals) with distressing stories of babies and mothers who were injured or died because of midwives’ unethical promotion of “normal birth.”

Don’t believe me? Check out the Twitter feeds of Sheena Byrom and Cathy Warwick on any day. You will rarely find any mention of the preventable deaths that flood the mainstream media (except to excuse them). Instead you will be treated to a fantasy world where midwives proverbially kiss and congratulate each other over and over and over again.

4. They are bullies. Trump’s preferred method of dealing with those who disagree with him is to sue them. He is prepared to rack up enormous legal bills in the hope that his opponents will not have the financial wherewithal to keep up. One of the reasons he’s floundering so badly in the Presidency is that you can’t sue your political opponents.

UK midwives don’t have the financial resources that Trump has, but they use what they’ve got. Their treatment of loss father James Titcombe has been particularly egregious. They’ve harassed him and continue to harass him on social media, reported him to his employer and spent literally hundreds of thousands of pounds on lawyers to keep him from getting accurate records of the negligent midwifery care that killed his son.

James has been extraordinarily gracious in the face of abuse. In addition, he has cautioned me both publicly and privately to avoid attacks on specific UK midwives. He’s a far nicer person than I am. Moreover, I’m beyond the ability of UK midwives to intimidate, harass or report me. They literally cannot bully me, no matter how hard they try. And the fact that they try is emblematic of the moral rot at the heart of UK midwifery.

This morning James wrote on Twitter:

Best to avoid personal attacks (on both sides of the debate) – they don’t help.

I have to disagree with James. I suspect that publicly naming and shaming those who allow babies to die on the altar of normal birth, refuse to accept responsibility, and bully anyone who disagrees might be the only way to hold these women to account.

As the political philosopher Edmund Burke famously said:

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

That’s true about Trump and it’s true about UK midwives. Both cause suffering, both are bullies and both must be stopped.

  • Sarah

    I loved it when Milli Hill got her arse handed to her after that obnoxious article a few months ago. She’s a truly appalling human being.

    • Martha G

      Where was that, Sarah? Managed to miss it…

      • Sarah
        • Martha G

          Thanks for that – what a hoot.

          If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s the ‘think positive and it won’t hurt’ fallacy. It’s about the most insidious of all the messages out there.

          As someone who has known and loved plenty of very positive and kind spirited people who contracted horrific illnesses, I don’t take kindly to this claim when made about childbirth or any other aspect of health…

          • Dr Kitty

            There are some things you may be able to control in pregnancy.

            You may be able to stop smoking, avoid drugs and alcohol, not put on more than 15lbs, take folic acid, eat a healthy balanced diet, get your ‘flu and pertussis vaccinations and get regular exercise- you may, for a multitude of reasons, not be able to do those things, but they are about all you can control.

            Positive thinking will not change the shape of your pelvis, the size and position of your baby, their ability to tolerate contractions, your placental function, the ability of your perineum to stretch without tearing and the ability of your uterus to contract effectively and how you perceive the sensation of uterine contractions.

            It borders on delusional to think that positive thinking can make labour and childbirth “easy”.

            Self hypnosis may work for some people, for some level of pain, but it’s not a panacea.

            Milli Hill is just plain wrong.

          • Sarah

            Shush, or Milli will say you’re bullying her.

  • Dr Kitty

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-40925343

    OT: seen this?

    Genetically engineering plants to produce polio vaccines. That’s pretty cool.
    Some way off clinical trials, but the technique is fascinating.

  • Russell Jones

    The Trump analogy is frighteningly apt. Apropos of the existing in a bubble thing, neither Donnie nor the RCM seems to mind who’s allowed inside the bubble so long as they’re wholly supportive.

    We recently saw Li’l Donnie run from a bill signing ceremony with his fingers in his ears going “Lalalalala” rather than say anything negative about white supremacist terrorism. To paraphrase John Oliver, Nazis are kinda like cats; if they like you, and they straight-up LOVE Trump, it’s probably because you’re feeding them.

    Likewise, “normal birthers” are more than happy to let into the inner circle people who gleefully downplay the injuries and deaths of babies and mothers so long as those people support the normal birth socio-political agenda.

    In both cases, moral reprehensibility isn’t factored in at all.

  • BeatriceC

    Over 1 billion pounds in payouts due to midwife negligence?!?!?!? Just think of how much actual healthcare could be funded with that money instead of paying in out to families who have seen babies and/or mothers die or become severely injured in order to chase this ridiculous fantasy. I can’t help but all the people on long waiting lists to see specialists and how those lists might be a hell of a lot shorter if the NHS was spending that money on actual healthcare instead of on cleaning up the messes of these fanatics.

  • mabelcruet
  • Teresita

    Keep it up Dr. T! You say you recognize the large egos you encountered in clinical medicine – I don’t as I’ve never been in the medical field. But I have worked steps away from the White House and easily recognize the motivations and dysfunctions of the policially ambitious and you’re right to draw parallels. When you’re employed in a particular industry it’s nearly impossible to fight the bullies because the problem is systemic. You are free to fight the sociopathic loonies and you do fearlessly. I love that.