Closure: How the flagship Albany Midwifery Practice, at the heart of its south London community, was demonised and dismantled
Published 11th May
In 1997 the Albany Midwifery Practice in Peckham, South London, negotiated a pioneering NHS contract with King’s College Hospital Trust. The Albany model of midwifery care was loved and respected not only by those who experienced it first-hand, but also by the wider midwifery profession. Founded to serve one of the most disadvantaged populations in London, its innovative approach led to improved outcomes for mothers and their babies. Why, then, was the practice suddenly shut down in 2009?
Although it was widely acknowledged that the Albany model offered gold-standard care, the hospital trust claimed that since March 2006 this care had been ‘unsafe’. But both the data and the methodology used to condemn the practice were flawed, and the real reasons for the closure remained obscure. Despite extensive protests by mothers and families, midwives, and many high-profile supporters, the Albany was forced to close its doors and one of the midwives was subjected to a punitive investigation by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, which eventually found that there was no case to answer.
Midwives and campaigners have long pushed for answers about what really happened to this flagship midwifery practice. In this damning assessment, based on years of careful research and interviews, the authors reveal how a hugely successful healthcare project was undermined and dismantled, to the detriment of mothers and babies, the wider community and the midwifery profession as a whole.
As maternity services are scrutinised once more, and as the NHS struggles to implement its policy of continuity of midwifery care, this hard-hitting account of the fate of the Albany could not be more relevant or more timely.