Families in and along Victoria’s South West Coast will continue to have the opportunity to have their maternity care as close to home as possible after the Brumby Government committed up to an extra $180,000 through the Rural Maternity Initiative South Western Victoria.
Member for Western Victoria Gayle Tierney MP welcomed the announcement of additional funding for maternity services.
“This initiative is part of the Brumby Government’s commitment to sustainable rural maternity services through an injection of $5.68 million over 4 years,” Ms Tierney said.
“This commitment has boosted birthing options in rural communities, after identifying the need to support women to give birth and receive care in their own communities.”
Local funding included:
• $70,000 for South West Healthcare in Warrnambool, which had previously received funding. It will continue its midwifery team model to ensure access for women to publicly funded care and to support surrounding health services
• $10,000 for Portland District Health for the continuation of their midwifery model of care
“These models of care can include one-on-one support with the same midwife from the start of pregnancy to the postnatal care period. Many of these services facilitate doctors and midwives working together to ensure the best care for mothers.”
Ms Tierney said the introduction of strategies that ensure the viability of rural services has enabled smaller country hospitals and communities to maintain local birthing services, in the face of shortages of obstetricians.
“The initiative will support groups of smaller hospitals and health services to work together to ensure a sustainable service across their region,” she said.
“This Brumby Government is committed to providing world-class health services to all Victorians no matter where they live.”
“This initiative has enabled 26 rural hospitals and health services to introduce midwifery models of care over the previous four years. Today’s announcement will provide new funding to 27 services, some of which have previously received funding under this imitative.”
Ms Tierney said that after four years of operation, the initiative had improved collaboration between midwives, doctors and other health professionals, and had received support from doctors and the community for the retention of local birthing services.
“The Brumby Government’s boost to rural maternity services will enable approximately 3000 rural women access to midwifery care and care within their own community,” Ms Tierney said.
“Every mother-to-be should have the chance to have their baby as close to home as possible. For the 70 per cent of women who have an uncomplicated pregnancy, midwife-managed care will be an attractive option.”
Health Minister Daniel Andrews said statewide, the Brumby Government will spend another $1.42 million this year to enable more hospitals to implement midwifery models of care as well as continue to support their maternity services through collaborative partnerships with other hospitals and between midwives and doctors. The funding will also continue for others funded in previous years to maintain their midwifery models of care.
“Obstetricians still have a major role to play in birthing services, and the Brumby Government is actively promoting the recruitment of more obstetricians to rural areas,” Mr Andrews said.
“Despite a world-wide shortage of obstetricians, the Government wants to maintain and even increase the number of hospitals providing maternity services in country Victoria, and we are looking at a range of options to meet the needs of country mothers. One of these options is midwifery care.”
Mr Andrews said Victoria already had the safest maternity services anywhere in the world.