The Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union (QNMU) and the Australian College of Midwives (ACM) have welcomed the Queensland government’s initial commitment of $16 million for regional, remote and rural Midwifery Group Practices (MGPs) and a Queensland Chief Midwife to oversee and progress state-wide midwifery issues.
QNMU Secretary Kate Veach said Health Minister Shannon Fentiman today announced $16 million to fund the midwifery initiatives pursued by the QNMU and the ACM following their member and public campaign.
The funding is part of the $42 million allocated for maternity in the June state budget.
“This commitment is a win for women and babies and midwives. Midwives and women have been very clear regarding problems in maternity services and they’ve also presented solutions which have been heard by Minister Fentiman,” said Ms Veach.
“This is a significant outcome for women, babies and midwives right across the state who deserve safe, quality and appropriate midwifery services.”
ACM Chief Midwife Alison Weatherstone said the announcement would change the future of midwifery in Queensland and nationally.
“This commitment is a victory for women, babies and the midwives who care for them throughout Queensland. We applaud the Health Minister for hearing and addressing midwifery concerns,” Ms Weatherstone said.
“This $16 million investment will go far to support Queensland women’s ability to birth the way they want to close to home especially in regional, remote and rural areas.
“It also supports midwife led models of care that empower both mothers and midwives. We commend this investment and the introduction of a Chief Midwife.”
Ms Veach said MGPs provided continuity of care, with midwives working with women and babies during pregnancy, birth and post birth. They also enable women, particularly those in rural and remote areas, to give birth close to home.
Evidence shows continuity of care models such as MGPs result in a 24% reduction of pre-term births and a 16% reduction in pregnancy and neonatal loss, improved perinatal mental health and are more cost effective to Government than standard care Continuity of carer | Clinical Excellence Queensland(health.qld.gov.au)
MGP continuity of care has known benefits for First Nations families with the above statistics increasing up to 50 per cent for First Nations women.
Ms Veach said she welcomed the state government’s $16 million investment in rural, remote and regional MGPs, a Queensland Chief Midwife to lead clinical governance and the announcement of a midwifery workforce pipeline supported by midwifery scholarships.
She said midwifery governance was required to address midwifery services and maternity reform. The QNMU and ACM welcome the announcement of midwifery scholarships to grow the workforce and await further detail of this announcement.
Queensland is experiencing widespread and chronic midwifery understaffing across many maternity services particularly in regional, rural and remote areas.
The announcement comes just days after peak midwifery bodies the QNMU and ACM, and the largest employer of private midwives My Midwives, rallied for change outside Parliament House in what was unprecedented action.
“The QNMU, ACM and My Midwives thank the women, midwives, maternity groups and community members who helped campaign for these important changes,” Ms Veach said.
“We look forward to discussing the detail of these initiatives with the Health Minister.”
My Midwives Managing Director Liz Wilkes said the announcement recognised the concerns of midwives, women and mothers state-wide.
“Midwives have long raised issues of importance regarding the choices, safety and wellbeing of women, mothers and babies,” Ms Wilkes said.
“This $16 million commitment is an investment in the wellbeing and future of Queensland women, babies and those who care for them. We welcome this investment in Queensland with a focus on regional, remote and rural areas where access to services and staff can be problematic.”
Ms Veach said the QNMU looked forward to further discussions with the Health Minister on other commitments pursued by the union, including ratios to safeguard inpatient maternity care and publicly funded home birth to give women choice in how and where they birth.
QNMU member and Midwife Ashleigh Sullivan said the QNMU would continue to campaign with the ACM for publicly funded homebirth and maternity ratios.
“We welcome the state government’s commitment and will continue to campaign for publicly funded homebirths and the introduction of ratios in Queensland Health inpatient maternity wards,” Ms Sullivan said.
“Queensland midwives are experiencing concern for those in their care, unsafe conditions and intense pressure at work due to increased demand and widespread understaffing. We look forward to working with the Queensland Chief Midwife and government to address maternity reform and midwifery workforce shortages.’’