Wednesday, June 24, 2009

from the Health Minister

Press Release today from Nicola Roxon ("from the horse's mouth", so to speak, and it's a real 'mixed bag', to mix metaphors)

"... In line with the Maternity Services Review Report, Medicare benefits and PBS prescribing will not be approved for deliveries outside clinical settings, and the Commonwealth-supported professional indemnity cover will not respond to claims relating to homebirths." [emphasis added]

Since homebirth is the main practice setting for private midwifery practice, I wonder what the advisers to the Minister are thinking about. By accepting the government's offer of indemnity cover, we will be cancelling our commitment to homebirth. Where, and how, will we work? Are we to celebrate a pyrrhic victory?

State health departments are producing homebirth policies. That's great. Access to homebirth may be greatly extended for the majority of women and midwives WHEN the public hospital system gets its act together and offers homebirth. But access to homebirth will at the same time be severely curtailed if not removed for many of the women who at present are being attended by independent midwives.

Can the Australian maternity community accept government interference in defining the setting of practice of a midwife? Would the medical community accept such wanton interference in its professional boundaries? As discussed previously, a doctor is able to attend homebirths, with insurance, with clients claiming Medicare refunds and benefits.

Midwives please note, from the above press release:
"The new professional indemnity scheme for eligible midwives will be available from 1 July 2010 and the new Medicare and PBS arrangements will be available from 1 November 2010."
The Australian College of Midwives is calling for expressions of interest in private practice (see P7 of Australian Midwifery News Winter 2009)

1 comment:

Joy Johnston said...


Here is the press release from Homebirth Australia

Deaths will increase with new announcements

Homebirth Australia today slammed the exclusion of homebirth from insurance schemes for midwives announced by the Health Minister Nicola Roxon in parliament today.

"Effectively two pieces of legislation will outlaw midwives providing homebirth care from July 2010" said Justine Caines, mother of seven and secretary of Homebirth Australia.

"Women will continue to homebirth, but will now do so without the assistance of a qualified professional." said Ms Caines. "The result will be an increase in deaths for mothers and babies, this is certain. It is absolutely impossible to understand the government's position on this, other than to say that they have bowed to political pressure from medical lobby groups."

The National Maternity Service Review received submissions from hundreds of women wanting access to homebirth services. The vast majority of homebirth services are provided by private practice midwives. Removing this option is likely to end access for most women to homebirth.

Ms Caines called on all ALP members to declare their view on a woman's right to self determination of her health care needs. "If the ALP is so hell bent on preventing women from accessing homebirth as an option I ask all ALP members to publically state their position on this. It appears that having a Health Minister who is a woman, a recent mother, and a lawyer understanding consumers' rights, is not proving to be an advantage for women. Removing women's rights to the point where we are back providing care in dark alleys or in back rooms is ridiculous in 2009."

copied from an email