By Senator Rachel
Siewert, the Australian Greens
Australian Greens broadly support the concepts of a national registration and a
national accreditation scheme for medical practitioners introduced in this
Bill. The Greens believe such a scheme would help ensure that patient safety
and that the quality of patient care provided to all Australians is enhanced by
the more efficient movement of registered practitioners across Australian
jurisdictional boundaries. A nationally uniform set of policies and regulatory
guidelines would signal an end to the reliance on mutual recognition of
jurisdiction based registration.
Furthermore, the Australian Greens
believe this scheme could have significant benefits for consumers in
terms of increased access to midwifery care for women and babies, and for
improving quality assurance for pregnant and birthing women and their families.
However the Australian Greens are concerned that this scheme
fails to acknowledge the number of women in Australia who currently choose birth
outside the hospital system.
It is the intention of this
national accreditation scheme to make professional indemnity insurance
mandatory for health care practitioners under national registration standards.
At present there is no professional indemnity insurance product for independent
midwives in Australia. This means that midwives in private practice cannot
obtain insurance and currently practise uninsured.
The insurance requirements
contained in this legislation are likely to prevent midwives from providing midwifery
services for homebirths. The Greens share the concerns expressed in a number of
submissions to this inquiry that this will result in some women who are
unwilling to birth in hospital, choosing to birth at home without a professionally
trained health care provider.
The Greens are concerned
that this increases the risk that some women will experience unsupervised childbirth, possible events of malpractice
and tragic outcomes.
The Australian Greens consider that all safe and appropriate
birthing options for women should be properly supported. The inevitable
consequence of the prerequisites for registration contained in this legislation
will effectively exclude safe, supervised homebirthing from the birthing options
of Australian women.
The Australian Greens therefore believe that the role of
practising independent midwives to provide safe and low risk homebirths should
be reconsidered and that in the interim an exemption should be made for this
group while other alternatives reviewed.
Senator Rachel Siewert
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