Australian newborns should count as patients and be included in midwifery staffing ratios.
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As it stands today babies born in hospital in Australia are admitted but not as patients and the hospital does not receive any individual funding for their care. This is based on the premise that they will be cared for by their mother. Even well babies born in hospitals though, will need specialised observations, investigations and often treatment that can only be provided by Registered Midwives or Registered Nurses. Blood glucose monitoring for babies of mothers with diabetes, IV antibiotics, neonatal medications, blood tests, phototherapy for jaundice, specialised observations for sepsis risk/meconium aspiration/drug withdrawal are all common in high risk hospital environments. And becoming more and more so. These tasks have been added to the workloads of Midwives over the years, and with the growing number of women with complicated pregnancies the workloads are becoming increasingly unmanageable.
Midwives are are expected to care for the same number of women as always, but the babies don’t count in their patient load. This needs to change now. These babies need to be recognised as patients in their own right and funded as such.
Midwives need time to provide these additional cares to the babies without compromising their ability to provide care for women’s physical, psychological and emotional health as they adjust to motherhood and recover from the birth of their baby. We need to provide important breastfeeding support, newborn care education, safety education, discharge planning etc.
We want the government to change the way babies are classified in hospitals where they receive clinical care like any other human being. My letter to the health ministers explains in more detail what and why we need change to happen now. I am hoping for a response to that and to this petition ASAP. Maybe by the time International day of the Midwife arrives in May we can get this through.
We need parents and parents-to-be to partner with us. Please add your voice to our cause and sign the petition. The change has to come from the federal health department, which is why this petition is directed to the Minister and Shadow Minister for Health.
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