Shoalhaven maternity services to expand

5 April 2019
Mother holding new born baby hand

The Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District has outlined its plan to deliver an enhanced maternity service in the Shoalhaven, giving local families access to a new midwifery led model of care.   

It comes following an extensive review of local maternity services by the Milton Ulladulla Hospital Maternity Model of Care Working Group, which was formed to develop a safe, long-term and sustainable service for local women. It took into account local challenges, including the impact of a shortage of obstetric clinicians.  

The plan for a Networked Midwifery Service across the Shoalhaven was outlined at a community forum in Milton this week, highlighting how the service will benefit local families over the next few years. 

Two midwifery groups will be introduced, servicing northern and southern Shoalhaven areas, with first steps in the expansion commencing in the next six to nine months. Antenatal care will be provided at a local clinic with a named primary and secondary midwife for women in both the Milton Ulladulla and Nowra regions. This means all women will have access to a known midwife for their antenatal and postnatal care. 

Clinical Midwife Consultant, Jane Griffith, told the forum this model will build capacity with the aim to introduce Midwifery Group Practice (MGP) across both sites.

“With MGP, each woman is allocated two midwives who provide her antenatal and postnatal care; one is on call for her labour and birth. All women will birth at Shoalhaven hospital in first instance, with plans to introduce birthing at Milton-Ulladulla Hospital for low risk women if possible after safety and workforce requirements are in place,” she said.

ISLHD Chief Executive, Margot Mains, said she was pleased a safe and practical service plan has been achieved.

“With birth rates in the Shoalhaven remaining steady, this model of care provides women with the safest and most sustainable level of maternity services for the region.

“Midwifery Group Practice provides continuity of care throughout pregnancy and is considered the gold standard of midwifery care. Research points to improved outcomes for mums and babies and greater job satisfaction for midwives. An MGP model will also provide the best platform for returning low-risk birthing services to Milton, should that be possible in the future, she said. 

An MGP service offering midwifery care across the full scope of maternity care will occur within 12-18 months in the southern Shoalhaven, starting with women in the Milton-Ulladulla area and then expanding. MGP will commence in northern Shoalhaven within 18-24 months.

“Thanks to the terrific work of the committee, including local community representatives, who have worked tirelessly alongside our clinicians to ensure we are on track to develop the most appropriate services for birthing women in the Shoalhaven well into the future,” Ms Mains concluded.