Mandated ratios will bring midwives back

Public sector midwives working part-time or casual would work more hours if there were mandated minimum staffing requirements in maternity, new research finds.

Over the last year The Lamp has reported on the chronic shortage of midwives in hospitals across NSW yet a new survey has found that large numbers of midwives would work more hours in our maternity suites and post-natal wards if ratios were introduced.

The survey of over 1000 NSW midwives found that 62 per cent work part time or as a casual and 93 per cent of these say they would increase the number of hours they would work if there were mandated minimum staffing requirements in maternity.

All had thought about leaving the profession with 80 per cent highlighting understaffing as the main reason they would act.

Currently there are no ratios of midwives to mothers in post-natal units in NSW hospitals.

The survey comes on the heels of the annual statistical report on births in NSW, released last month by the Centre for Epidemiology and Evidence, which found that the proportion of babies fully breastfed has dropped by 8.4 per cent to 73.7 per cent since 2012. Other studies have found that babies discharged quickly from hospital are less likely to breastfeed.

A part of the problem, says NSWNMA Assistant General Secretary Judith Kiejda, is the lack of time to give mothers the level of support they need before they discharge.

“Midwives are responsible for educating mothers and providing physical and emotional support to both women and their babies,” she said.

your postcode counts in post-natal care

“Under the current system there is not enough time for midwives to provide the level of support and education mothers need during these vital days.”

This is particularly so in Sydney’s west where, on average, mothers and babies are sent home a day earlier than those from hospitals in the east and north, the statistics reveal.

“I feel that the women of western Sydney are being ripped off. They don’t get the one-on-one care, they don’t get the education that they need because we just don’t have the time to spend with them, We’re putting women out the door when they want to stay and be cared for in hospital,” Renalla Fairley from the NSWNMA Nepean Branch told a recent rally outside the hospital.

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