As I was reading the West Australian paper today I came across a headline which read:
“Baby boom brings new role for midwives”, I thought great, what’s this about? And proceeded to read it and was surprised for two reasons; the first being;
“Midwives would get doctor-style responsibilities such as ordering diagnostic tests and the ability to prescribe drugs under proposals the Federal Government is considering”
– I thought, what a new role? Well, as I did my midwifery in the UK, and worked as a community midwife, this is something that I already use to do and was stripped of this right once I began working in WA as midwives do not work in this capacity here. There are several other countries that also work in this capacity where midwives have diagnostic responsibilities, these are New Zealand and off course Britain.
This is the role a midwife is supposed to have, this is the role midwives are educated for, to provide continuity of care, one on one care, know and recognise the normal and then recognise the abnormal, order diagnostic tests and then refer to the obstetrician when the situation becomes abnormal. The midwife is the expert in the normal pregnancy and birth, the obstetrician in the abnormal.
I am delighted for the profession of midwifery and for the women of this State that we are finally letting midwives work to their fullest capacity.
Secondly I am also delighted that the Health Minister Nicola Roxon has bought this issue to the forefront and is open to dialogue and discussion regarding the prospect of midwives working to their fullest capacity and also considering the option of Medicare provider numbers for midwives and looking at the issue of indemnity insurance.
This is a result of a comprehensive review of maternity services throughout Australia which says “that there is no Medicare benefit payable to midwives for management of labour and delivery and private health insurers offer only limited support for midwifery services”.
It was no surprise to read that the “Australian Medical Association” will oppose this proposal. We should be working in collaboration with each other, midwives and obstetricians, rather than this constant power play, using ‘fear tactics’ and patient/client safety to keep women and midwives in line.
Let the dialogue and discussions begin.
Ref: West Australian 10 September 2008 p12