Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1314 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

Hospital will develop and extend its midwifery-lead care to the community through a home birthing program.

The problems with professional indemnity insurance for midwives cannot be solved other than by the government making a policy decision to treat independent midwives in terms of their insurance needs in a way different from that which we have been prepared to provide in relation to the raft of other private sector organisations and businesses that have come to the government over the last six months seeking just this same sort of assistance. Other than acknowledging the importance of home birth, I have some difficulty in accepting that the government should move to simply pay the insurance premiums for independent midwives, that is, midwives operating a private practice, albeit with laudable community and other results and consequences.

There are some other options around a model of care that could operate through a hospital. For instance, there have been significant, serious discussions with Calvary Hospital, but to some extent the negotiations or discussions that have been conducted with Calvary-and we have confirmed this again today with Calvary Hospital-would require a significant injection of funds by the government to allow, in effect, Calvary Hospital to develop a second version of the Canberra midwifery program that operates out of the Canberra Hospital. I don't think it is cost effective. At this stage I cannot justify the additional resources to Cavalry Hospital to provide that particular support from there.

At this stage, Ms Tucker, we have been actively pursuing it. We have developed a range of options. We have now narrowed the options down to a preferred option, which is that we should negotiate, consult around the development through the Canberra midwifery program of a home birth option which would provide care, through the Canberra midwifery program, to public patients. In the context of negotiations and discussions around that, we would look to utilise the experience and skills of those that are currently independent midwives.

MS TUCKER: It may be a clarification question, but, if I understood what you just said, there would no longer be independent midwives; you would not be actually prepared to put independent midwives on contract, as visiting medical officers would be. Is that correct? You want the whole work to be funded from within the hospital and they would be direct employees of the hospital. You are not prepared to put them on contract.

MR STANHOPE: Yes, Ms Tucker, that is, at this stage, the preferred option of the government. We considered that. The issue around independent contracting doesn't overcome the professional indemnity insurance issues. That was the model that was initially favoured in Western Australia. It is a model which has been abandoned by both Western Australia and South Australia and it doesn't find favour with us.

There are a range of very good reasons for that. To actually contract the midwives as independent contractors doesn't deal with the indemnity issue. It means that the government would still have to underwrite the insurance needs of those independent

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .