Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Australian maternity reform through clinical redesign

Donna L. Hartz A D , Jan White B , Kathleen A. Lainchbury B , Helen Gunn B , Helen Jarman B , Alec W. Welsh B C , Daniel Challis C and Sally K. Tracy A B C

A University of Sydney, Midwifery and Women’s Health Research Unit, Level 1, Royal Hospital for Women, Barker Street, Randwick, NSW 2031, Australia. Email: sally.tracy@sydney.edu.au

B Royal Hospital for Women, Barker Street, Randwick, NSW 2031, Australia. Email: jan.white@sesiahs.health.nsw.gov.au; anne.lainchbury@sesiahs.health.nsw.gov.au; helen.gunn@sesiahs.health.nsw.gov.au; helen.jarman@sesiahs.health.nsw.gov.au

C University of NSW, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia. Email: alec.welsh@unsw.edu.au; daniel.challis@sesiahs.health.nsw.gov.au

D Corresponding author. Email: donna.hartz@sydney.edu.au

Australian Health Review 36(2) 169-175 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/AH11012
Submitted: 15 February 2011  Accepted: 16 August 2011   Published: 4 May 2012

Abstract

The current Australian national maternity reform agenda focuses on improving access to maternity care for women and their families while preserving safety and quality. The caseload midwifery model of care offers the level of access to continuity of care proposed in the reforms however the introduction of these models in Australia continues to meet with strong resistance. In many places access to caseload midwifery care is offered as a token, usually restricted to well women, within limited metropolitan and regional facilities and where available, places for women are very small as a proportion of the total service provided. This case study outlines a major clinical redesign of midwifery care at a metropolitan tertiary referral maternity hospital in Sydney. Caseload midwifery care was introduced under randomised trial conditions to provide midwifery care to 1500 women of all risk resulting in half of the publicly insured women receiving midwifery group practice care. The paper describes the organisational quality and safety tools that were utilised to facilitate the process while discussing the factors that facilitated the process and the barriers that were encountered within the workforce, operational and political context.

What is known about the topic?  Caseload midwifery models of care have been established in a variety of community based and hospital settings throughout Australia with a reported reduction in clinical intervention rates while maintainning safety of mothers and babies.

What does this paper add?  This case study illustrates the strategies used to achieve a large sustainable clinical service redesign project based on the introduction of the caseload midwifery model of care.

What are the implications for practitioners?  Establishing midwifery group practice care within the mainstream maternity services has far reaching implications for the retention and recruitment of midwives and the improvement of clinical outcomes in childbirth.


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