Has the AMA hijacked the Federal Government’s plans for maternity services reform?
Yes – and it will be to the detriment of the public, especially those in rural, remote and other under-served communities.
That, at least, is the clear imputation of this Crikey article published today by two senior midwives and academics, Professor Sally Tracy and Professor Lesley Barclay, from the University of Sydney.
As the article explains, the country’s most senior academic midwives have signed an open letter protesting against proposed amendments to legislation that they say “are ill-informed, conflict with current regulation of the practice of midwives, and were promoted by a medical union (the AMA), rather than the craft groups most concerned and knowledgeable about women’s needs and safety at birth”.
The midswives say the amendments, proposing that midwives be required to have “collaborative arrangements” with “one or more medical practitioners” before they are eligible for Commonwealth-funded professional indemnity and before their services are eligible for Medicare rebates, are “not informed by evidence, but appear to be based on protection of income and power”.
They warn that the proposed amendment creates a real risk that qualified, competent midwives will lose their licence to practise — at a time when we have acute shortages of qualified midwives in many areas of Australia. “This is likely to further reduce access to optimal or even safe care for women and families who are currently disadvantaged and for whom recent reforms offer most promise,” they say.
For those wondering who else is backing the letter, the other signatories are:
• Associate Professor Hannah Dahlen, University of Western Sydney
• Professor Caroline Homer, University of Technology Sydney
• Professor Sue Kildea, Australian Catholic University
• Professor Jennifer Fenwick, University of Technology Sydney
• Professor Pat Brodie, University of Technology Sydney
• Professor Nicky Leap, University of Technology Sydney
• Associate Professor Deb Davis, University of Technology Sydney
• Professor Maralyn Foureur, University of Technology Sydney
• Associate Professor Sue Kruske, University of Queensland
• Associate Professor Virginia Schmied, University of Western Sydney
• Dr Helen McLachlan, La Trobe University
• Dr Della Forster, La Trobe University
• Professor Jan Pincombe, University of South Australia
• Associate Professor Heather Hancock, Southern Cross University
• Associate Professor Pauline Glover, Flinders University Adelaide
• Ms Jen Byrne, Flinders University Adelaide
• Professor Carol Thorogood, Charles Darwin University
• Professor Susan McDonald, La Trobe Universtiy/ Mercy Hospital for Women
• Associate Professor Jenny Gamble, Griffith University
• Professor Kathleen Fahy, University of Newcastle