The Australian College of Midwives joins with midwives in NSW, calling for safety and quality to be adequately addressed.
Midwives are highly trained and skilled primary care providers for pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period. In public hospitals, care along the childbirth continuum should be provided exclusively by midwives but due to an under staffed and under supported midwifery workforce, Registered and Enrolled Nurses and Assistants in Nursing (AINs) who are not clinically trained to provide midwifery care, are often required to staff postnatal wards, meaning women and their babies may not receive the support they need. This needs to be addressed.
Postnatal care and support that is provided by midwives results in better outcomes for parents and babies and can often reduce readmission.
ACM President, Professor Joanne Gray said, “It is vital that midwives have workloads that are sustainable, so that they can provide the necessary care women and their babies require”.
The current midwifery staffing tool to ensure safe staffing levels which meet the needs of parents and babies in NSW Public Hospitals requires review. Improved staffing levels factoring in both mothers and their babies, must be actioned to ensure a thriving midwifery workforce into the future.
• Women, regardless of where they live, should have access to midwifery led continuity of carer; the maternity model of care known to provide the best birth outcomes for mothers and babies.
• Improved maternity staffing is necessary to ensure current staff are retained and help prevent more midwives from leaving the public health system, due to burn out, early retirement or seeking better conditions and pay in other states or territories.
• Further investment in the midwifery workforce including training, recruitment and retention of midwives in regional NSW is required.
• Midwifery students require high quality clinical placements where they are supported and supervised by midwives.
• Clinical midwifery educators must be prioritised to ensure that midwifery students and early career midwives are supported to develop skills and consolidate learning.