I. The Report of the Maternity Services Review (February 2009)

Australian maternity service reforms and initiatives have been informed by a number of reviews and inquiries in recent years, the most recent of which was the National Maternity Services Review. This review involved roundtable forums and stakeholder submissions regarding maternity service issues in areas such as antenatal services, social support and birthing options. The review resulted in the release of Improving Maternity Services in Australia: The Report of the Maternity Services Review in February 2009. Recommendations were made in 18 key areas, such as the maternity workforce and access to a range of models of care. Issues of access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, and women in rural and remote parts of Australia, were also identified as priority areas for development.

To access the document, click here.

II. Providing More Choice in Maternity Care – Access to Medicare and PBS for Midwives (2009)

The Australian Government has responded to the recommendations of the Report of the Maternity Services Review (2009) with a $120.5 million Budget package entitled Providing More Choice in Maternity Care – Access to Medicare and PBS for Midwives. The package includes:

Medicare Benefits Schedule and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) benefits for services provided by eligible midwives, to provide greater access to maternity care provided by midwives working in collaboration with doctors – expanding choice for women. A Government-supported professional indemnity insurance scheme for eligible midwives.More services for rural and remote communities, where the state of maternity services is poor, through an expansion of the successful Medical Specialist Outreach Assistance Program (MSOAP).Extra scholarships for GPs and midwives to expand the maternity workforce, particularly in rural and remote Australia.A new 24 hour, seven days a week telephone helpline and information service to provide women, their partners and families with greater access to maternity information and support before and after birth.

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III. The Australian National Maternity Services Plan (2010)

At the Australian Health Ministers’ Conference (AHMC) in September 2009, it was decided that the development of the Australian National Maternity Services Plan must become a priority. Campbell Research and Consulting Pty Ltd were commissioned to develop the Plan as a result. This Plan details a five year vision of woman-centered maternity care in Australia and is the product of collaboration between Australian governments and maternity health service professionals.

The Plan is comprised of three parts:

  1. Maternity care in Australia
  2. The National Maternity Services Plan
  3. Implementation of the Plan

Implementation will be advanced under the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (AHMAC) and each jurisdiction will be required to report to AHMC.

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IV. National and Strategic Framework for Rural and Remote Health (2012)

This framework was developed by the Rural Health Standing Committee through collaboration between the Commonwealth, State and the Northern Territory governments. The framework endorses a national approach to policy, planning, design and delivery of health services available in rural and remote communities. The Framework’s primary vision is to ensure that people in rural and remote areas of Australia are as healthy as those living elsewhere. Goals include improved access to healthcare and an appropriate and skilled workforce.

The Framework has been designed to ensure integration with existing national, state and local government policies and planning and it does not restrict governments from developing future policies and plans.

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V. National Consensus Framework for Rural Maternity Services (2008)

This Framework was developed following a Symposium on Birthing Services in Small Rural Hospitals: Sustaining Rural and Remote Communities held in Alice Springs in 2005. The Framework is the result of collaboration between six organisations; the Royal Doctors Association of Australia, the Australian College of Midwives, the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the National Rural Faculty of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and Rural Health Workforce Australia. The aim was to address the growing need for policy and planning guidance around sustainable rural maternity services in Australia through a flexible approach that recognises the realities of rural settings. The Framework was developed in the hope that it would assist with the work of the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission and the development of the National Maternity Services Plan.

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VI. Community Affairs References Committee: The factors affecting the supply of health services and medical professionals in rural areas (2012)

The Senate Community Affairs References Committee of the 43rd Parliament makes 18 recommends to assist in improving the supply of health services and medical professionals in rural areas. Recommendations are made around issues including; distribution of medical, nursing and allied health professionals; medical skills deficits; issues related to remoteness; and the role of universities and medical schools.

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VII. Clinical Services Capability Framework for Public and Licensed Private Health Facilities (version 3.1) (2012)

The Framework was development to provide guidance for an integrated and coordinated approach to the planning and delivery of health services in Queensland. Main purposes of the Framework include; identification and management of risk; provision of a consistent language to use in the planning of health services; and a set of capability criteria that details minimum requirements by service level. The Framework, presented in modular form, is not intended to replace existing service-specific patient safety policy and procedures or clinical judgement.

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VIII. Primary Maternity Services in Australia – A Framework for Implementation (2008)

This framework provides an overview of the features expected of primary maternity service models together with examples of how various services are organised to demonstrate these features:

High quality care enabled by evidenced based practice.Care is coordinated according to the woman’s clinical needA collaborative and multi-disciplinary approachContinuity of care is the preferred practice for maternity servicesWoman centred care which enables a sense of controlCare which is culturally appropriate and reduces inequalities7. Maintaining access to quality services in local communities

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IX. Re-Birthing: Report of the Review of Maternity Services in Queensland (Hirst, 2005)

The reviews purpose was to examine health services for pregnancy, birth and post-birth care and recommend evidence-based, sustain strategies to enhance choices for women. The follow recommendations were made:

– Care is safe and feels safe

– Care is open and honest

– Care is local and feels local

– Care belongs to families

– Carers work together and communicate

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X. Principles for maternity services in rural and remote Australia (2006)

This paper:

• presents the views jointly agreed by the 25 Member Bodies of the NRHA;

• will help secure a higher place on the national policy agenda for rural and remote maternity services;

• supports greater public understanding of the facts surrounding the issue;

• strengthens the case for new policies and programs in maternity services that will have beneficial impact on child and maternal health outcomes in rural and remote areas; and

• provides a resource for administrators, planners and policy makers to use in their efforts to improve access to maternity services for people in rural and remote areas.

The paper is aimed at consumers, public servants, politicians, health professionals, researchers, peak bodies and the media.

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XI. Maternity Services Review in the Northern Territory (Department of Health and Community Services, 2007)

In 2007 the Department of Health and Community Services (DHCS) initiated a comprehensive review of Maternity Services in the NT. One of the key outcomes for the review was to establish an Integrated Maternity Service Framework which optimised accessibility, safety, effectiveness and efficiency of maternity services for Territorians.

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XII. National Maternity Services Capability Framework

The National Maternity Services Plan (the Plan), as endorsed by the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council in 2010, provides a number of strategic initiatives aimed at national maternity reform over a five year period. The development of the National Maternity Services Capability Framework (the Framework), is one of the initial year actions outlined in the Plan. Specifically, the Framework provides a rigorous methodology to assist in woman-centred maternity service planning and improve risk management in maternity care. A primary purpose of the Framework is to support the provision of safe maternity services in as many localities as possible across Australia in both the public and private sectors. It is important that planned maternity clinical activity is matched to the capability and sustainability of the local health service to ensure that women receive appropriate, timely care as close to home as possible and achieve optimal outcomes.

To access the document, click here.