Monday, July 06, 2009

Bill B

Tomorrow (Tues 7 July) I am planning to attend the Victorian stakeholders forum on 'Bill B', the exposure draft of the National Regulation and Accreditation Scheme for health professionals.

I have prepared a couple of documents exploring the clauses in the new legislation, and the impact that this is likely to have on midwives' private practices. Included is a list of questions to ask the representatives from the Department of Human Services at the forum tomorrow. If anyone would like me to send this information to you, please contact me by email You will need to introduce yourself if I don't already know you, because I don't want to share my work with people who might abuse it.

You may wonder why I have included a picture of a Bilby, a small mouse-like marsupial with big ears?

Midwives share a lot with the Bilby. I'm suggesting that the Bilby be adopted by midwives as our little animal mascot.

The Bilby is at present being brought back from near-extinction. The midwife in private practice is also an endangered species. We need big ears, like the Bilby, to stay alert to any danger. We need to scurry for cover at the slightest sign.

Let's hope we have the resillience and intelligence to overcome the threats to our existence, and continue providing expert one-to-one midwifery care for women in our communities.

In the interests of best practice, and safe choices for all women, I believe:
• Midwives must be able to practise midwifery without government or outside professional interference
• No group of midwives should be subjected to greater levels of regulation than any other group of midwives – independent midwives expect the same degree of regulation as any other midwife
• The midwifery profession expects the same level of regulation as other health professions
• Peer counselling and confidential review of cases should be implemented. Midwives who are acting in a way that may be unprofessional or incompetent or putting their clients at risk should be reported to the regulatory body for investigation – as for any other professional.
• Risk assessment and response to development of complications is a normal aspect of a midwife’s professional capability. Risk assessment is an ongoing process throughout the episode of care. (WHO 1996 Care in normal birth)
• Women who seek the services of independent midwives will sometimes have complex social and obstetric histories, and this makes the dedicated care of a skilled midwife essential. This option is often not available in hospital based models of care, private or public.
• We need urgently to demolish the barriers that exist in maternity care, preventing midwives from attending their clients privately in hospitals.
• The protection of the midwife’s right to attend a woman privately for maternity care in any setting is strongly in the public interest.

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