Homebirths exemption extended until 2015
MIDWIVES without professional indemnity insurance will be able to keep overseeing homebirths until mid-2015 while federal and state health ministers try to find a long-term solution.
The ministers yesterday (Friday, August 10) agreed to extend the existing insurance exemption for midwives in private practice for two years.
It was due to expire in mid-2013, Sydney media report.
Midwives have been able to access government-supported insurance since 2010 because insurers wouldn’t offer them products.
But it doesn’t cover the delivery of babies in the home.
Federal and state health ministers, meeting in Sydney, agreed to the extension while asking Western Australia to “develop a paper on longer-term arrangements”.
That paper will be presented to the next ministerial meeting in November.
The health ministers yesterday also agreed to change the existing rules which require midwives to work in collaboration with doctors.
They’ll now be able to enter agreements with “hospital and health services” as well.
That move will be welcomed by midwives who have long argued the current determination effectively gave doctors a veto over midwives.
But doctors are outraged, with the Australian Medical Association (AMA) labelling the decision “dangerous and unexpected”.
“If the Commonwealth proceeds with (the) decision it will be essentially allowing independent practice by a midwife,” AMA president Steve Hambleton says in a statement.
“When the collaborative care arrangements were being developed it was agreed the midwife could have an agreement with a doctor in a hospital who would ensure appropriate care arrangements were in place.
“This decision is transferring sensitive patient care and management from a doctor to a bureaucrat.
“It must not proceed,” Dr Hambleton says.