Appointment was made this Wednesday with the Ministry of Health, but the latter postponed it. Disappointed but not disarmed, the midwives decided to “Keep the pressure on the government” and call for a strike today, to demand a revaluation of their status and their salaries. «Midwives have been protesting for many years to achieve progress and this is never satisfactory ”, regrets Caroline Combot, Deputy Secretary General of the National Union of Midwives (ONSSF).
Their main claim: to be considered a medical profession and thus benefit from the equivalent salary scale. “Currently, a midwife who is just starting out is not even 2 000 euros when she made five years of study and went through medical training. Compared to the skills and responsibilities she has, that’s not much ”, pointe Marie-Anne Poumaer, president of the National Union and Union of Midwives (UNSSF).
While midwives are known for their role in monitoring pregnancies and childbirth, their field of intervention is broader. Since 2009, they have been authorized to do gynecological follow-ups and, since 2016, they can perform medical voluntary terminations of pregnancy (abortion). “We are adding lots of skills, but with a constant envelope. At some point, you have to go to the cash register ”, pleads Caroline Combot. The episode of Ségur de la santé last summer was also painfully experienced by the profession: they obtained a salary increase of 183 euros net per month, the sum intended for non-medical professions.
Burnout and abuse
Midwives feel they have long been wronged, relegated to the rank of small hands ready to help out but not really to play in the big leagues. Crushed, they say, by the lobbying of certain gynecologists reluctant to cede them ground. They observe, disillusioned, the awareness campaigns being carried out without them: what proportion of women in France knows that midwives can do smears and insert IUDs? That they are able to detect cervical or breast cancer?
In front of this situation, “There is an increasingly important disaffection for the profession, which worries us a lot, Caroline Combot alert. Maternities have a terrible time recruiting, liberal midwives cannot find replacements or buyers. ” According to a survey conducted by the National College of Midwives of France in June 2020, 42.3% of salaried maïeuticiennes and 31% of liberal staff said they suffered from burnout. Being understaffed, they do not have the time to devote themselves fully to each patient, thus risking mistreatment.
In November, the midwife Anna Roy, recurring figure of the TV show the Kindergarten House, dared to say publicly that she herself had been, and published in the wake a petition calling for each midwife to take care of only one parturient in the birthing room, compared to three on average at present.
“We generate savings”
Faced with requests for salary increases, it is not surprising that a ministry is slowing down with all four irons. However, the corporation assures us: public finances have everything to gain. “It’s an investment, but we generate savings. Our consultations cost less than with a gynecologist, we prescribe fewer additional examinations, fewer treatments : a course costs less for Health Insurance ”, defends Caroline Combot.
After this missed meeting, the midwifery representatives are supposed to meet with counselors from the Ministry of Health on February 24. They will organize in parallel a new day of mobilization, in order to leave no doubt about their determination.