On International Midwives Day Greens MP and health spokesperson Lee Rhiannon has called on Premier Kristina Keneally to ensure that a significant amount of the Rudd health money earmarked for NSW is used to boost the numbers of midwives.
“Ms Keneally should be a strong backer of maternity reform as increasing the number of midwives and nurses is an effective way to free up hospital beds for those who are genuinely unwell,” Ms Rhiannon said.
“NSW could provide a nationwide lead by developing a more sophisticated midwifery workforce strategy to address shortages of midwives across NSW.
“Strong backing from the highest level of government for an expanded midwifery system is needed if health reform plans are to be effective.
“Women are keen to have access to more midwife-based models of care, but the shortage of midwives in NSW, particularly in rural areas, is limiting this choice.
“Midwives are known to provide extremely safe and high quality care, providing continuity over the pregnancy, birthing and post natal period.
“More midwives providing these services frees up hospital beds for those who need them.
“While some work has been done by the NSW government to increase the number of midwifery places numbers still need boosting.
“A government priority in any health reform plans needs to include a commitment to statewide practitioner access for new Medicare funding for private midwives.
“In an era where we are short of health professionals and hospital beds, providing increased access to midwives and reducing the medicalisation of birth where we can is a win win for families, babies, the health system and the economy.
“Medical intervention in childbirth has risen dramatically in Australia over the last decade, with NSW now having the highest birth intervention rate in history.
“We are seeing caesarean rates of up to 36.4 percent for privately insured patients.
“Boosting resources to support community-based midwifery and continuity of care makes sense to most women and will only serve to improve the health system in NSW,” Ms Rhiannon said.