Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Senate Inquiry re: complaints about midwives

The Australian Senate Finance and Public Administration Committees are holding an Inquiry into the administration of health practitioner registration by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). On 23 March 2011 the Senate referred the following matter to the Senate Finance and Public Administration Committees for inquiry and report.
Inquiry into the administration of health practitioner registration by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). Submissions should be received by 14 April 2011. The reporting date is 13 May 2011.

The Committee is seeking written submissions from interested individuals and organisations preferably in electronic form submitted online or sent by email to as an attached Adobe PDF or MS Word format document. The email must include full postal address and contact details.

I have just sent my submission to this inquiry.

The situation as it stands is like this report from Kelly at the Belly Belly site:

"There is currently a major problem occurring with the process of complaints about midwives.

Several midwives around the country have had conditions placed on their registration due to complaints. These complaints are mostly from hospital staff when a labouring woman and her partner are transferring from a homebirth. Most of these restrictions demand that the independent midwife can only practice midwifery within a hospital birthing unit. This brings their homebirth practice to a screaming holt, leaving their women without a care provider and the midwife without an income!

The process as it currently stands is this:

The hospital staff or anyone put in a complaint to the Nursing and Midwifery Board (NMB) about a midwife. The Board meet monthly and decide whether the complaint needs to go to investigation or not. In some cases they’ll decide it doesn’t need an investigation and the conditions will automatically go onto the midwives registration.

If they decide it needs investigating they slap ‘interim conditions’ on the midwives registration. In the case of homebirth midwives the conditions are “Must work only in a hospital and under supervision”.

The investigation then goes to the HCCC and the conditions remain on the midwives registration until the investigation is complete.

Basically, it is a matter of midwives being found guilty until proven innocent.

Investigations can take a year or more. This is leaving many women without a midwife (some are 39 weeks pregnant) and leaving midwives without income – and for some it could be a matter of losing their home, as they cannot pay their mortgage etc".

Given that the Collaborative Arrangements Inquiry had thousands of submissions which the committee dutifully ignored, it will be interesting to see what they do with the submissions for this one.
We live in hope that sanity and a 'fair go' for women and midwives will prevail in Australia.

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