Saturday, 30 May 2009

Improving Maternity Services Package Budget 2009

Improving Maternity Services Package

The following paragraphs are from the federal budget released on the 12th May 09. I've been reading it, seeking to understand what it all really means. I'm not really any closer to finding out. What I do know is that the 'system' is not working well. Women centred care is still a pipe dream in many places. Stories student midwives tell are threaded with examples of bullying and coercion of women to fit in with the policy driven, factory style approach to the birthing process. There is still lots of work to do to create maternity services which are women centred, aware of women's individuality, private, kind and respectful. Is the budget offering a good move?

"The Government will provide $120.5 million over four years for the introduction of Medicare‑supported midwifery services to provide greater choice for women during pregnancy, birthing and postnatal maternity care. This measure includes $3.1 million in capital funding in 2009‑10 for Medicare Australia.

The new arrangements will allow midwives to work as private practitioners, provide services subsidised by the Medical Benefits Schedule and prescribe medications subsidised under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule. The Government will also provide subsidised medical indemnity for eligible midwives working in collaborative arrangements in hospitals and healthcare settings. To ensure that Australia maintains its strong record of safety and quality in maternity care, a safety and quality framework, including professional guidance and an advanced midwifery credentialing framework, will be developed. A new 24‑hour, seven‑days‑a‑week helpline will also be established to provide antenatal, birthing and postnatal maternity advice and information to women, partners and families during the ante‑natal period and up to 12 months following the birth of a child.

The measure will also assist women in rural and remote areas by expanding the Medical Specialist Outreach Assistance Program to provide integrated outreach maternity service teams for women in under serviced areas. The expanded teams will include midwives, obstetricians, general practitioners and other health professionals, such as paediatricians and Aboriginal health workers. Additionally, funding will be provided for the professional development of midwives and for general practitioners to undertake additional training to become GP obstetricians or GP anaesthetists. The package will be implemented progressively from 1 July 2009".

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