Wimmera midwifery service to expand

WIMMERA Health Care Group will expand its midwifery service.

Chief executive Chris Scott said the organisation would relaunch an outpatient midwives clinic for pregnant women from July.

His announcement follows an outcry from Wimmera residents over the axing of the health care group's Team Midwifery program.

A Horsham resident started an online petition to save the program after hearing about its closure on Friday.

When the Mail-Times went to press last night, the 'Save Team Midwifery' petition on change.org had received more than 730 signatures.

Mr Scott said the Team Midwifery program was moving to a more effective model, to allow the service to be offered to more women.

He said the current program cared for about 10 per cent of the women who gave birth at Wimmera Health Care Group each year with the remainder receiving care from the organisation's mainstream maternity service.

"We understand that midwifery is a service very close to the hearts of many women and families in the Wimmera and we appreciate the groundswell of support," he said.

"Our midwives are one of our most valuable resources and we are keen to offer their expertise and services to a wider audience.

"At present, only 40 out of about 360 births are assisted by the Team Midwifery service," he said.

Mr Scott said Wimmera Health Care Group's long-term plan was to create a multi-team midwifery continuity model.

He said the model would provide for all mothers and newborn babies in partnership with a skilled obstetric medical team.

"To achieve our goal of transitioning to a more effective model we have to address issues such as untenable workloads for midwives, changes in healthcare policy and legislation and changing community needs," he said.

"Our plan is to spread our continuity of care ethos across our entire maternity service.

"The new model will comprise ward-based maternity services for birthing and post-natal care ably supported by two specialist obstetricians and the two experienced general practitioner obstetricians."

Mr Scott said Wimmera Health Care group's clinical services director and medical services directors would work closely with maternity staff to ensure high quality, continuous care.

"We put a lot of time and effort in planning and developing all of our health services and this is indicative of the important role of Wimmera Health Care Group in the communities we serve," he said.

Mr Scott said the Team Midwifery program which started in 1994 was one of the first programs of its kind in Victoria and was the first continuity model of maternity care endorsed by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation.

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