Queensland Health has come up with new initiatives to ensure pregnant women across the state can access high-quality maternity care anytime, anywhere.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
The health system announced five new initiatives to promote maternity services in rural and remote areas, including the use of the digital passport system to assist in the mobility of staff between hospitals and plug workforce shortages.
It will also fund the advanced obstetrics training of 20 GPs in regional, rural, and remote areas, as well as the training of doctors, nurses, and midwives on best practice woman-centred care and collaboration; review policies for stand-ins to maximise incentive options for the regional maternity workforce; and promote First Nations midwifery models of care services across Hospital and Health Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Organisations.
THE LARGER CONTEXT
Maternity services in Queensland, just like the rest across Australia, are experiencing a staff shortage crisis. The situation, exacerbated by the recent global pandemic and an ageing workforce, seemed more dire in rural and regional areas, where many services have been reported to go on birthing bypass or have closed.
Following stakeholder feedback from last month’s Ministerial Maternity Roundtable, Queensland Health is able to come up with the new initiatives to promote maternity services in underserved communities.
One of the initiatives, the use of digital passports, will provide the existing medical workforce with the “flexibility to fill staffing shortages in other regions and keep maternity and other health services operating,” according to the Australian Medical Association Queensland, which has advocated for this solution.
“These initial initiatives are crucial and are part of a much broader piece of work we are delivering to ensure women across Queensland can access safe maternity services where and when they need them,” Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Shannon Fentiman said.
The initiatives are also part of the present Queensland government’s A$42 million ($29 million) investment to uplift rural and remote maternity services.
Meanwhile, the use of digital passports to support staff mobility across the state is one of the measures included in HEALTHQ32, Queensland’s 10-year vision for healthcare.