In an unprecedented action, Queensland midwives will today rally outside Parliament House.
Queensland midwives and peak midwifery bodies the Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union (QNMU) and the Australian College of Midwives (ACM), along with the largest employer of endorsed midwives My Midwives, will rally to call for urgent state government midwifery funding.
QNMU Secretary Kate Veach said midwives wanted the State Government to urgently commit state budget maternity funding to midwives and midwifery led models of care such as Midwifery Group Practice (MGP).
Ms Veach said Queensland was in the midst of a health crisis and midwives were overloaded resulting in unsafe conditions for mothers and babies.
She said the QNMU’s Count the Babies (CtB) safety audit recently revealed single midwives were being allocated up to 20 mothers and babies at a time – that’s up to 20 individuals with a range of care needs.
Midwives are deeply concerned for those in their care and their colleagues who are experiencing burnout and leaving the profession.
Queensland women are also experiencing difficulty accessing midwifery services close to home. Funding for MGP would allow women to birth safely where they live.
However, the state government is yet to commit any of the $42 million allocated for maternity in the June state budget to midwives or midwife led models of care.
The QNMU, ACM and My Midwives are calling for immediate and appropriate state government funding to support and expand MGP, the introduction of ratios in Queensland Health (QH) maternity inpatient wards, public funding for homebirths and a workforce plan to address chronic understaffing that includes strengthening midwifery leadership at all levels.
“Midwives are rallying today because conditions and workloads in Queensland maternity inpatient wards are unsafe and cannot continue,” Ms Veach said.
“We are calling on Health Minister Shannon Fentiman and the State Government to commit appropriate funding to midwives and midwife led models of care now.
“The system is in crisis and we have the solutions. Queensland’s midwives must be heard and respected.”
ACM Chief Midwife Alison Weatherstone said midwives were demanding action on behalf of Queensland mothers, babies and their colleagues.
“Queensland women aren’t currently able to consistently access maternity care close to home. They deserve choice, continuity of care and services where they live,” Ms Weatherstone said.
“Failure to act is a failure to ensure the safety and wellbeing of Queensland mothers, babies and the midwives who care for them.”
My Midwives Managing Director Liz Wilkes said the state government needed to act now.
“The state government must appropriately fund services such as Midwifery Group Practice if Queensland women and babies are to receive quality care where and when it’s needed,” Ms Wilkes said.
“Every woman who gives birth in Queensland receives care from a midwife. Having that midwife be a known midwife should be a priority. The state government must commit to midwifery funding as a matter of urgency.”
QNMU member and midwife Ashleigh Sullivan said Queensland midwives could not be expected to continue under existing dangerous workloads.
“The state government announced $42 million in state budget maternity funding, yet sufficient funds have not been allocated to support midwives or midwife led models of care,” Ms Sullivan said.
“Midwives are worried about those in their care and they’re exhausted and burnt out due to dangerous workloads. Queensland mothers, babies and midwives deserve better.”
The QNMU and ACM have hired billboards in Townsville, Rockhampton and Bundaberg with the slogan You Can’t Fix Maternity Without Midwives! to demand state government midwifery funding. Midwives have met with Members of Parliament in these regions to call for urgent funding.
The QNMU, ACM, My Midwives and midwives will meet with Minister Fentiman on Wednesday August 23 to call for immediate funding.
The outcome of this meeting will determine potential further unified action to campaign for midwifery funding.