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Maternity services forums to discuss workforce strategies

Maternity services forums to discuss workforce strategies

The midwifery workforce funding boost and associated implementation of staffing and member wellbeing strategies will be discussed at upcoming ANMF forums for public sector midwifery members.

The one-hour online forums will be held on Wednesday 27 and Thursday 28 October.

Hosted by ANMF (Vic Branch) Assistant Secretary Madeleine Harradence and Maternity Services Officer Nicole Allan, the forums will provide midwifery members with an opportunity to discuss funding arrangements at their health service and provide feedback on recent staffing improvements or current challenges.

Nursing and Midwifery Health Program Victoria staff will also attend to follow up on the midwifery wellbeing sessions ANMF held earlier this year.

In July the Andrews Government announced a $13.2 million boost for additional midwifery staff to meet the unexpected demand of Victoria’s baby boom at several health services.

The funding was allocated to health services which are maternity capability level 3 and above.

ANMF understands the increase in COVID-19 community transmission and an increase in COVID patients and COVID-positive pregnant women has exacerbated the pressure on midwives and the health system. In some health services it has also delayed implementation or changed the new midwifery workforce measures.

ANMF Job Reps are participating on working groups at their health service to discuss how the funding is spent over the next six month to address workforce issues now and longer-term.

The role of the working groups, which include midwives, is to ensure the initiatives:

  1. support improved rostering and staff allocation, taking staff wellbeing into account
  2. provide additional staffing on key shifts of higher demand (with a dedicated focus on night shifts)
  3. support rapid deployment of innovative workforce models including the midwifery student employment model known as Registered Undergraduate Student of Midwifery (RUSOM) model.

The member-only forums will be private and confidential. Please register for only one of the three scheduled sessions:

Register now for Wednesday 27 October – 10.00am or 4.00pm 

Register now for Thursday 28 October – 10.00am 

Where will the extra midwives come from?

The number of Victorian midwives is increasing since the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia recorded an increase of only 19 midwives in 2016-17.

Over the last two years there has been an increase of 152 midwives and 497 registered nurse/ midwives.

In June 2019 there were 1468 midwives, 7409 registered nurse/ midwives and 75 registered and/or enrolled nurse and midwives.

The latest NMBA data shows that in June 2021 there were 1620 Victorian midwives, 7906 registered nurse/ midwives and another 79 registered nurse and/ or enrolled nurse and midwives.

It is acknowledged that in the short and medium-term additional staff will need to come from part-time midwives increasing their hours. The latest accessible data in the Federal ANMF Pay Check quarterly report indicates that in 2019 midwives worked an average of 20 hours per week. For those registered as a midwife, 52 per cent work less than 35 hours per week. Healthcare services will have a better understanding of the current capacity of their workforce to increase hours.

The Registered Undergraduate Student of Midwifery (RUSOM) model will soon be implemented or expanded across 19 maternity services.

Existing RUSOM models will be expanded to 24/7 at Western Health, Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s Hospital and The Women’s. The midwifery student employment model will be introduced at Mercy Hospital for Women, Werribee Mercy, Women’s @ Sandringham, Eastern Health, Wodonga Health, Bendigo Health, Peninsula Health, Ballarat Health, Monash Health, Central Gippsland, Latrobe Regional Health, Goulburn Valley Health, Mildura Base, Northern Health, Swan Hill District Health, Colac Area Health and Echuca Regional Health.

Work also continues on building the state’s midwifery workforce capacity. Postgraduate midwifery employment model opportunities are increasing under the Andrews Government $50 million workforce development fund as well as scholarships to support post graduate studies.

ANMF has also provided financial support, up to 80 per cent of tuition fees, for nurses undertaking postgraduate studies in midwifery. Applications for ANMF’s 2022 fee grant opens in January.