2010 a small group of clinical midwife consultants, who are senior and
experienced midwives, have worked with rural health services providing
education and support to midwives and doctors as part of the Rural Maternity Support
Program. This program, designed to improve the sustainability of rural
maternity services, enabled midwives in small isolated towns to provide ante
and post-natal care and birthing services to local women in collaboration with
larger health services.
program provides approximately $500,000 annually for Goulburn Valley Health,
South West Healthcare, Bendigo Health, Ballarat Health Services and Latrobe
Regional Hospital combined to employ six clinical midwife consultants. The
Department of Health has advised funding will stop in June and health services will
have to find the money if they want to continue the program.
Baillieu Government has said the health services could access funds from $5
million available through the Victorian Nurse Policy Branch, but ANF has been
advised that these funds have already been allocated.
Nursing Federation (Victorian Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said: "In the
lead up to the 2010 state election Ted Baillieu criticised the Brumby
Government for not improving rural women's access to maternity care and now
he's getting rid of a program that has assisted them to have their babies and
receive safe ante and post-natal care near their homes.
program has linked midwives, general practitioners, obstetricians and health
services and improved their understanding of each other's needs and capabilities.
The support and education has enabled clinicians to continue to practise with
confidence which means maternity services in regional Victoria keep their staff
and keep providing the service.
makes no sense to stop a successful midwifery support program that has improved
rural women's access to safe maternity care, and mentors and supports isolated midwives.
Instead, health services are told to scramble for spare health dollars that
don't exist to cobble together a version of something we have already, that works
well and is funded by the State Government," she said.
midwives are telling us that the ongoing education and support this program
provided helped them maintain their midwifery skills. If this program goes,
over time these midwives will drop their midwifery registration and that means rural
women will have to travel further for ante and post-natal care and to have
their babies," she said.
is working with rural midwives who are seeking to achieve ongoing funding for