Qld government commits $16 million following midwifery rally to address workforce issues

Queensland Health Minister, Shannon Fentiman, making the funding announcement, flanked by QNMU Secretary Kate Veach.

The Queensland government has pledged $16 million for regional, remote and rural Midwifery Group Practices (MGPs), as well as creating the role of a state Chief Midwife to help navigate the profession’s ongoing issues, following protest action outside Parliament House this week.

The Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union (QNMU) and the Australian College of Midwives (ACM) have been calling for proper state government funding for the state’s midwives, including midwife-led models of care such as Midwifery Group Practice (MGP).

After rallying earlier this week, QNMU Secretary Kate Veach welcomed Health Minister Shannon Fentiman’s $16 million initial commitment, announced yesterday, to fund midwifery initiatives pursued by the QNMU and ACM as the state battles widespread and chronic understaffing across many maternity services, particularly in regional, rural and remote areas.

The funding is part of the $42 million allocated for maternity in the recent June state budget.

“This commitment is a win for women and babies and midwives,” Ms Veach said.

“Midwives and women have been very clear regarding problems in maternity services and they’ve also presented solutions which have been heard by Minister Fentiman.

“This is a significant outcome for women, babies and midwives right across the state who deserve safe, quality and appropriate midwifery services.”

Echoing the view, ACM Chief Midwife Alison Weatherstone suggested the announcement would “change the future of midwifery in Queensland and nationally”.

“This commitment is a victory for women, babies and midwives who care for them throughout Queensland. We applaud the Health Minister for hearing and addressing midwifery concerns,” Ms Weatherstone said.

“This $16 million investment will go far to support Queensland women’s ability to birth the way they want to, close to home, especially in regional, remote and rural areas.

“It also supports midwife-led models of care that empower both mothers and midwives.”

Ms Veach said MGPs provided continuity of care, with midwives working with women and babies during pregnancy, birth and post-birth. They also enable women, particularly those in rural and remote areas, to give birth close to home.”

Evidence shows continuity of care models such as MGPS result in a 24% reduction of pre-term births and a 16% reduction in pregnancy and neonatal loss, improved perinatal mental health, and are more cost-effective to government than standard care.

MGP continuity of care also has benefits for First Nations families.

Ms Veach welcomed the state government’s $16 million investment in rural, remote and regional MGPs, a Queensland Chief Midwife to lead clinical governance, and support for a midwifery workforce pipeline backed by midwifery scholarships.

She said the QNMU looked forward to further discussions with the Health Minister on other commitments pursued by the union, including ratios to safeguard inpatient maternity care, and publicly funded home birth to give women choice in how and where they birth.

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