Here's an excerpt from her December 16, 2009 Daily Mail article, "NHS maternity services in meltdown: A former midwife reveals how understaffed wards are sinking into chaos":
...In the 13 years since I joined the NHS, conditions have deteriorated. Starting from the moment they arrive through the hospital doors, birth plans tucked neatly in their overnight bags, women are being betrayed.(Read the full text of "NHS maternity services in meltdown")
There is reams of evidence to prove that a woman's labour is likely to be shorter and she runs less chance of needing medical intervention if she feels calm and relaxed in the early stages. It's not rocket science.
Yet because midwives don't have time to sit with women in early labour for more than a few minutes at most, we are encouraged to do the next best thing.
We offer them strong painkilling drugs such as pethidine or diamorphine -- which is a form of heroin.
Drugs keep the mother nice and quiet which, of course, suits staff.
But they also likely to make her and her unborn baby terribly sleepy.
Although these drugs can sometimes increase contractions, they all too often slow them down.
The end result at the woman will need more drugs, not fewer, and labour will take longer.
But, of course, we don't explain of that as we dole out our pain killers. Besides, on a busy ward, what's the alternative?
Once a woman is in full labour, you'd thought we'd put her needs first. But I'm embarrassed to admit that, all too often, we were not allowed to.
Most hospitals rigidly enforce the rule that, once in labour, a woman's canal must dilate at the rate of 1cm an hour.
If that isn't happening, midwives are encouraged to tell the her that her baby may be getting in distress -- even if that isn't the case.
Terrified and exhausted by a haze of drugs, the woman agrees to anything which is offered.
In practice, this means we give her extra drugs to intensify the contractions and so speed the arrival of the child.
Her pain levels increase and she'll need an epidural injection in her spine to numb the pain around her groin.
It's a vicious circle. I felt terribly mean persuading women to go along with it. I knew I wasn't always acting in their best interests. But what could I do?
Basically, the NHS system created incentives in which providers were encouraged to act against their patients' interests.
Whenever the government attempts to provide a service such as "universal" health care, it must also control it. This means controlling the doctors, nurses, midwives, and others who will provide that service. As Ms. Brown's story illustrates, the government's priority will inevitably be cost control, even if it means compromised patient care.
Do Americans really want a system where doctors are constantly forced to choose between the priorities of their paymasters and their patients?