Page 3895 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 29 October 2013

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hospitals—they have been able to use eligible midwives to provide that very high level of highly qualified care for women in that setting. I think the last figure I saw was for Queensland, and I know that it is available for others; I think WA is another example where midwife-led care is essential for delivering maternity services in such a large jurisdiction. It is not such a huge issue here, but I can give you many examples of women who have approached me wanting their midwife to assist with their birth in a public health facility, and they are not able to do that.

It is about providing choice. It is about establishing a process where midwives might be eligible to be credentialed in a public hospital facility. It does not allow for that to occur at this point, because there is a whole lot of other work that needs to be done, including collaboration with medical practitioners.

I think it probably is only the local chapter of the college of obstetricians and gynaecologists that may have concerns. My understanding is that RANZCOG did not, and they were involved in the national negotiations for the national maternity services plan. I know that the midwife organisations, for example the ANMF, would be very supportive of this—as would, I imagine, the consumer health organisations, who again have been calling for greater opportunity for midwife-led care in maternity services. I think they would also be supportive, as will many women who are wanting to expand their choices when they birth and for their antenatal care. And indeed, it has been supported by the most senior clinical staff at the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children who are also obstetricians and gynaecologists.

I do not doubt that there are concerns raised locally. This is always the way where there is what is seen as essentially a demarcation and a possible moving in in areas where others have not been able to practise. It is not unusual in health. But this simply allows a process to occur; it does not allow a change in practice. It will not have midwives providing this care tomorrow, because there are other steps that need to be taken. But it does implement our nationally agreed commitment to the national maternity services plan as agreed by health ministers in 2010 after extensive consultation with various stakeholders.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (10.59): I support this bill. It makes several amendments to ACT legislation that are minor, non-technical or non-controversial. In terms of the substantive matter that has been raised today, I appreciate the explanation the Chief Minister has just given. My understanding is that the amendment simply formalises an accrediting process formerly entered into by public hospitals. It is a scheme that applies nationally and was agreed to by all health ministers in 2010. Again, my understanding is that ACT legislation required a minor amendment to implement this. It was not required in all jurisdictions. So in that sense I think that points to the nature of the amendment.

Having listened to the comments from the Chief Minister, and from the information that I have been able to garner in a very short time frame, my understanding is that consultation was undertaken locally with senior clinicians and, of course, through the national bodies—the office of the Commonwealth Chief Nurse and Midwifery Officer.

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