ۺŮ

ۺŮ Welcomes Opportunities to Improve Birthing Outcomes for Women

ۺŮ

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

Updated
30 May 2024
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The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ۺŮ) welcomes the report of the , released earlier this week. The report presents findings and recommendations to the NSW Government to address birth trauma in the state’s hospitals.

The College actively participated in the parliamentary inquiry via a and testimony presented at a public hearing. Throughout the process we, as a College, were saddened by the many birth experiences that were described in individual submissions. Birth trauma, as much as we seek to eliminate it, remains a profound challenge that many women and birthing people encounter in their journey.

Pursuing a profession in healthcare necessitates immense dedication, compassion, and unwavering commitment to the well-being of others. No practitioner intentionally causes harm to their patients. As doctors, we can always seek opportunities to improve how we care for women and birthing people so that their experience is patient-centred, and as autonomous as the circumstances of each birth will allow.

Improving birthing experiences and reducing incidences of birth trauma will require the sustained, collective effort of everyone working within maternal care and the broader healthcare space: from medical professionals and other health practitioners, as well as health system policymakers, funders, and administrators. The systemic factors which contribute to incidences of birth trauma need to be addressed. ۺŮ’s recommendations to the Inquiry made a range of suggestions for how to improve outcomes for women and their babies.

With the current significant health workforce challenges, including midwifery shortages, facing Australia, ۺŮ asserts that continuity of care by multidisciplinary teams is the most sensible way forward, rather than focusing on a single professional group. The Inquiry’s report prioritises midwifery led continuity of care and recommends that the NSW Government invest in and expand midwifery continuity of care models, and address midwifery shortages.

“When seeking to improve birthing experience, it is absolutely vital to remember that substituting one healthcare profession for another is short-sighted. No single group of healthcare professionals can provide everything that may be needed to ensure safety for mother and baby. To say otherwise, is to ignore the fact that birthing can include scenarios where emergency intervention is required to save lives and prevent injury. Doctors, including obstetricians and GP obstetricians, and midwives must work together to achieve the best possible outcomes for women and their families,” said Dr Gillian Gibson, ۺŮ President.

Integrating team-based workforce models of care across antenatal services is fundamental to improving outcomes for women and families. This collaborative approach will allow for better continuity of care via a multidisciplinary team fully equipped to adapt to all complications which may arise throughout the pregnancy and birth.

The report recommends investment in the GP Obstetric workforce to improve continuity of care in rural areas. GP obstetric models of care are essential in enabling women in regional, rural and remote areas to have their care managed closer to home with support networks.

“Expanding the workforce of GPOs should be treated as an urgent priority. There is a critical shortage of equitable procedural training opportunities in rural and remote Australia, and significant funding and focus to address this is something the College has long been advocating for,” said Dr Martina Mende, ۺŮ Associate Board Member, and NSW GP Obstetrician.

The College welcomes the report’s recommendation that the NSW Government develop education comprehensively covering pregnancy and birth, including different models of maternity care, potential pregnancy complications and birth interventions. As noted in the report, education delivered ahead of potential emergency situations during birth is essential to women’s informed decision- making about their birthing process. Its paramount that we take a multidisciplinary approach to this, and ۺŮ welcomes the opportunity to be involved in the development and delivery of evidence-based educational resources.

“There’s no guarantee birth will go the way we hope and expect. Ensuring all expectant mothers and parents understand various possible scenarios and outcomes beforehand is crucial. Education by a multidisciplinary team helps build trust and, empowers expectant parents with the knowledge and confidence they need to make informed decisions. This in turn helps us as clinicians to engage in genuine shared decision-making and provide the best possible care to meet their needs,” said Professor Amanda Henry, ۺŮ NSW Councillor, and Obstetrician.

The NSW government has three months to respond to the inquiry’s report. ۺŮ is committed to continuing to work with all stakeholders on these terms with improving outcomes for women and birthing people at the forefront of the College’s efforts.


For media enquiries
Bec McPhee
Head of Advocacy & Communications
0413 258 166
bmcphee@ranzcog.edu.au

CATEGORIES
Advocacy Women’s health

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