Campaign


Almost immediately following the closure of the Albany Practice a local support group was set up. Calling themselves the ‘Albany Mums’, they began a vigorous campaign to try and save the Practice.

The Albany Mums group grew to over seven hundred strong and began a wide-ranging, sustained campaign. The group was determined to challenge the decision and reinstate the Practice. Women in the group wrote letters to all the Board members at King’s, senior midwives at King’s, the Primary Care Trust, local MPs and councillors, the Care Quality Commission , the two local Health Overview and Scrutiny Committees and the Department of Health. They sought and gained media support and coverage (press and TV), and held two demonstrations – one outside King’s and another at the Department of Health. They marched to Parliament and handed in a petition signed by thousands of people. They met with their Maternity Services Liaison Committee (MSLC), with senior midwives, with two local Scrutiny Committees, and with lawyers and barristers. They held fundraising events and even stood with collection buckets in Peckham High Street.

The campaign to reinstate the Albany Midwifery Practice was also supported by the Royal College of Midwives, the National Childbirth Trust, the Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services, the Association of Radical Midwives, Independent Midwives UK, and many leading professionals and academics in the field of midwifery and maternity care.

A large and colourful rally, ‘Reclaiming Birth’, was held in Central London on 7th March 2010 attended by approximately 2000 supporters. In addition to supporting the ‘Save the Albany’ campaign this event also gave voice to many other organisations campaigning for a better future for maternity services in the UK.

Alongside the Albany Mums campaign the Albany Action Group (AAG) was quickly set up to challenge the termination of the contract, with key supporters from the professions and campaigning organisations. In the spring of 2010, another group – known as the Albany Model Advisory Group (AMAG) – was instigated by Dr Luke Zander, pulling together influential academically recognised and politically aware professionals. The aim of this group was to look at how generalisable lessons could be learned from the disturbing and questionable course of action that had precipitated the termination of the Albany contract. It was recognised that the closure of the Albany Practice had caused widespread concern locally, nationally and even internationally, and had raised many issues with serious and far-reaching implications. AMAG was set up to identify the nature of these issues, and to seek ways to address them in a constructive manner. Members of AMAG, and others, have written many articles about the damaging Albany saga and the implications for midwifery in the future.
An incriminating and inaccurate statement about the safety record of the Albany Practice posted in December 2009 on the King’s College Hospital website remains accessible to this day, in spite of all the efforts of Albany supporters to have it removed.

The continued aim of Albany supporters is to find out the real reason for the termination of the contract, and to clear the Albany name, not only for the sake of its own reputation, but also to justify a model of care that has been widely recognised as exemplary. It is hoped that lessons can be learned from what has happened, and that forward thinking midwives and others can in the future build on the success of the Albany model.