Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Who's the REAL health minister?


Wednesday 11 August 2010

Independents in Key Marginal Seats Join Forces and Ask:

Will the Real Health Minister Stand Up at Today’s National Press Club Address
Across health there are hundreds of community groups advocating for improvements in health. For four women across 3 states the lack of any real action in maternity reform has led them to stand as independent candidates.

Michelle Meares, Amy Bell, Sally-Anne Brown and Rebecca Jenkinson are standing in the seats of Robertson, Macquarie, Corangamite and Dickson respectively. These seats are ultra marginal and these women are united by a common passion to improve maternity care for Australian women rather than seeing health services dominated by the self interest of the Australian Medical Association (AMA).

Maternity reform was the first cab of the rank in Rudd’s health reform plan. Nicola Roxon announced funding midwives through Medicare for the first time. “This legislation had the capacity to greatly improve care for women across the country and was initially well received.” says Rebecca Jenkinson, teacher, mother of 2 children and independent candidate for Dickson.

Whilst consultation with a range of stakeholders has occurred it has been clear to those participating that the medical lobby has controlled the decisions within the reforms. “Nicola Roxon has put the self interest of the doctors union above the needs of Australian families as they continue to suffer, especially in rural and remote areas.” said Sally-Anne Brown a nurse and midwife from rural Victoria, running in the electorate of Corangamite.

“In the last month we have come to the conclusion that Nicola Roxon is not really Australia’s Health Minister and Peter Dutton is not the shadow minister. The real minister is Dr Andrew Pesce, President of the Australian Medical Association.” said Michelle Meares, IT consultant and mother on NSW’s Central Coast. “Despite unprecedented support from the women of Australia for maternity reform, Minister Roxon turned her back on them caving to pressure from the AMA that has resulted in legislation being snuck through, signed off by the Governor General the day before the election was called.”

The Determination ( National Health Collaborative arrangements for midwives Determination 2010) passed on the election eve requires medical sign off or agreement before women can receive a Medicare payment for private midwifery care. This legislation gives doctors the power of veto not only over the practice of midwives but also the choices pregnant women make.

“This move looks likely to contravene Australia’s commitment to the Convention on the Elimination of all Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). How can the women of the ALP introduce legislation that prevents a woman from making decisions about her own body, giving veto to medical practitioners” said Sally-Anne Brown. Amy Bell, mother and nurse from the Blue Mountains region adds “Women have asked us to step up and represent the voices of women on this issue and they are standing behind us all the way.”

Rebecca Jenkinson is also dismayed that Shadow Health Minister, Peter Dutton has also refused to take a stand on this issue. “As a member of his electorate I am aware of the women that have met with and written to Peter Dutton. We are yet to see any positive protection from the coalition for the rights of women to make decisions. We can only assume that Minister’s Roxon and Dutton believe the AMA has more currency than Australian families”

All candidates report great support on the ground. For too long maternity care has been thought of as a ‘soft issue’. One only needs to see the catastrophic effects of postnatal depression, family breakdown and child abuse to know that how we support new families, especially mothers matters greatly. Amy Bell adds “Maternal suicide is the leading cause of death in the first year after birth – we have to look at more positive ways to support women.”

These candidates join together to ask when will Nicola Roxon and Peter Dutton (who are speaking together today at the National Press Club) be honest enough to announce that the AMA is the real driver of health policy in Australia.

Contact: Rebecca Jenkinson 0439 765 633
Michelle Meares 0439 645 372
Sally-Anne Brown 0438 708 693
Amy Bell 0432 928 014

Authorised by Sally-Anne Brown, 3 Scott Place Apollo Bay Victoria 3233


Joy Johnston said...

The following questions appear, with others from a wide range of health stakeholders, at

Liz Wilkes, National Spokesperson, Australian Private Midwives Association

Women’s rights to choice in birth care have been stripped away by legislation requiring midwives to have care plans signed off by a doctor before women can get a Medicare payment for private midwifery care. How can both the ALP and Coalition justify supporting this AMA requirement ahead of women’s rights? Does this mean that the AMA rather than government elected members are controlling health care in this country?


Hannah Dahlen, President of the Australian College of Midwives

How are midwives going to to be able to meet the requirements of the collaboration arrangement Determination (arrangement with a doctor) and provide care to women under the proposed reforms when not one has been able to date to find a doctor willing to enter into such an arrangement? These reforms are about to fall flat on their face.


Joy Johnston said...

August 11 2010
Australian Private Midwives Association
Midwives support women rallying at health debate

Women in Canberra are gathering at the Press Club today during the debate between Health Minister Nicola Roxon and opposition health minister Peter Dutton to show their anger over a medical veto to Medicare for Midwives imposed on the election eve by the government.

Marie Heath, National President of the Australian Private Midwives Association, said that women are angry at the introduction of regulations that require midwives to have a signed agreement with a doctor or to have named doctor provide acknowledgment of the care the midwife is providing at every step so that women can receive Medicare rebates for private
midwifery care.

“Midwives are happy to work with doctors but having a doctor control who accesses funding is absolutely not acceptable,” Ms Heath stated “Why would a doctor voluntarily sign an agreement that increases his workload, with no financial benefit? Aside from these practical issues midwives are regulated to provide care on their own responsibility. If we don’t trust midwives to provide care in this way now, why are they providing most of the care 24 hours a day across the country? It is only when they now can have funding that doctors are jumping
up and down.”

If a midwife can’t get a signed collaborative arrangement or is unable to get the doctor to acknowledge collaboration throughout the woman will be unable to access a Medicare rebate
for her private midwifery care. This determination was enacted out of the parliamentary session, on the eve of the election. Midwives believe this is a sure sign that the AMA, rather than the government, is controlling the agenda.

“The AMA are heavily involved in this decision. They have sent out media releases saying that the legislation ensures that services will not be fragmented. Midwives in private practice are the only practitioner providing care from the beginning of pregnancy right through until six weeks post birth. Private obstetricians involve a range of midwives during the same period and women in the public sector often see upward of 30 practitioner. This determination will prevent the one practitioner providing care across the full childbirth experience, private midwives, from doing so. How the AMA can claim having doctor sign off for private midwifery care will decrease fragmentation is beyond us.”

Midwives are supporting the women today at the press club due to concerns that even where a midwife has a collaborative arrangement a doctor can pull out at any time. “If a doctor disagrees with the choices a woman makes, say in labour, and withdraws the collaborative arrangement the woman is without a rebate and the midwife may be left uninsured” added Ms Heath. “Women cannot accept this. Both sides of politics are yet to demonstrate that they are standing up to the AMA on this issue ensuring women’s rights to choice in birth are

Contacts: Marie Heath 0400774725 Liz Wilkes 0423 580585

Joy Johnston said...

MORE QUESTIONS TO CROAKEY (see first comment at this post)

Justine Caines, Homebirth Australia
Can you please explain how the common law rights of women can be maintained when you have instituted a determination that gives doctors veto power over both a woman’s decisions and midwifery practice under Medicare?

Julia along with other women on Emily’s List Australia categorically state that they believe in:
“Choice…We believe women must have control over their own bodies and choices in their lives. Reproductive Freedom empowers women and men to choose if, when and how to begin the important journey into parenthood, without fear of discrimination, coercion or violence.” If the members of Emily’s List Australia genuinely believe that “women must have control over their own bodies and choices” then why at the 11th hour in the last Parliamentary sitting did Emily’s List support Nicola Roxon to remove the rights of pregnant women by the ‘sneaky’ passing of the Determination that veto’s every pregnant woman’s from having control over body and choice in her reproductive life. This sneaky passing of the Determination also enforced veto of Midwives professional autonomy to practice the full scope of their qualifications. What does this mean? It means all pregnant women are now forced to employ a doctor to make decisions for them, decisions about their place of birth and who their maternity service provider will be.

Why – Julia, Tanya, Penny and Jenny when you are promoted as the four leaders of Emily’s List have you unequivocally agreed that every woman must be ‘signed off’ with the agreement of a doctor for the woman to be able to receive Medicare through the services of a Midwife? Why is your word and publicly recorded ‘belief’ incongruent with your political decisions making? Why are you preventing Australian women from employing a midwife to birth at home? What Julia’s are Mr Dutton’s responses to this discrimination?