Today the ALP promised to give women in Victoria greater choices for care from ‘pregnancy to birth and beyond’.
Opposition leader Daniel Andrews announced in Brunswick that women will have the option of choosing a private midwife to care for them in a public hospital, in the same way they can currently choose a private obstetrician, through the introduction of a pilot program of access for Eligible Midwives in two Victorian hospitals.
Professor Caroline Homer, President of the Australian College of Midwives (ACM) explained “women have better outcomes when they have a midwife that they know caring for them throughout their pregnancy, birth, and after the baby is born and they have easy access to higher level care if and when they need it. In Victoria at the moment, if a woman chooses a private midwife to care for her and her baby, she has to say goodbye to that midwife the minute she enters hospital. But what women want is for their midwives to continue to care for them when they give birth in hospital, rather than a team of people they have never met before.”
In 2010 the Commonwealth Government introduced reforms that provided funding for private midwifery care via Medicare rebates. Provision were also put into place to support this model that ensure mothers receive a high standard of care. The Victorian Government published a guide on implementation for hospitals in 2013: Eligible midwives and collaborative arrangement: An implementation framework for Victorian public health services. However, until now no hospital has implemented the reforms.
Michele Newton, Vice President of the ACM who attended the announcement today said “The ACM has been campaigning since 2010 for these reforms to be enacted in Victoria, but until now there has been little will or leadership to make this happen. It is good news that under an Andrews Labour Government the choices for women will be increased and private midwives will have access to public hospitals to support continuity of midwifery care, which we know is so beneficial for women, babies and families.”
Andrew’s announcement reflected that “Labour’s plan will not only help ensure the ‘gold standard of care – the same, known caregiver from start to finish – but will make it affordable for women and hospitals, with the costs of the birth billed to Medicare.” In addition, continuity of midwifery care is associated with less medical interventions providing further cost savings.
The Australian College of Midwives welcomes this initiative.ACM Vice President:
ACM Acting CEO