‘I don’t think it’s a good idea’: New guidelines for doctors, nurses, and gynecologists to be taught
In a bid to ensure their students are fully equipped for the work ahead, Australia’s new Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) guidelines require doctors, midwives and nurses to have a comprehensive knowledge of the latest developments in obstetrics, gynecological, reproductive health and the prevention of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
The new guidance is part of the government’s plan to create a more “comprehensive and inclusive approach to health”, which has been seen as a key priority of the Abbott government’s health reform agenda.
But it has sparked concerns among health experts, who say the guidelines will not adequately prepare doctors, who have already been warned they will face a shortage of doctors in the future.
Professor Michael Gannon, chief executive of the Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ACOG), says he is concerned the guidelines could undermine the current role of the profession in Australian society and could discourage doctors from seeking to do work that is best suited to their skill level.
“It’s very concerning because it’s quite clear that we have a shortage in midwives, and it’s an area where the current generation of midwives are already being taught a very narrow and narrow range of skills, in particular in obstetric care, and that will continue to be the case,” Professor Gannon told AAP.
The ACOG has been working with the Department of Human Services to develop a national training program for midwives to develop skills relevant to their new roles.
Professor Gannon says the new guidelines have been put together with the aim of increasing midwives’ confidence in the profession and their ability to carry out important work.
But he says it is important that they also recognise the need to address concerns over the quality of midwifery education, particularly in the face of rising costs.
“The guidelines are very well-intentioned but they’re also very specific.
It seems to me that they don’t really address the broad issues that the public have about midwifi and the fact that we need a lot more midwis,” Professor Veda Patel, chief operating officer of the ACOG’s Australian Health Education Network, said.”
There is still a lot of very specific things that need to be addressed.
So, it’s really disappointing that the Department has decided to take it one step further by putting out guidelines for the midwives that are only going to be applicable for one year, and not for all practitioners, and which are completely inadequate.”
The new guidelines will be introduced to doctors, and midwives in mid-year, as part of a package of reforms that will see the government move to a National Health and Medical Services (NHS) model of health services.
This will include a shift away from the current model of hospitals, doctors and midwitches operating on a per-patient basis to one that will deliver high-quality health services, and will provide for better coordination and collaboration between health departments.
But many midwives say the changes are unlikely to be enough to address the growing demand for midwires.
Dr Michael Smith, chief of gyneciatrics at Melbourne’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine, says the guidelines are just the first step.
“We are working hard on the training curriculum and we will be making sure that the guidelines get to the right people,” he told AAP on Tuesday.
“So, I would hope that we are making it easier for doctors to have an understanding of the changes, but also to make sure that they are also able to do the work that they need to do.”
And also to have the appropriate training for the roles that they have, so that the midwife is able to help people when they are at home or in an office, so they can be there at home when the doctor is not.
“Dr Smith says the changes will also help midwives who work in different areas of the country, but that the new role for mid-wives in the health system needs to be strengthened.”
Midwives will need to have more and more responsibility and a more robust role to play, particularly to address areas where there is high demand for care, for example in primary care, or where there are some areas where we do need more specialists, particularly specialists in gynecologist practice,” he said.
In a separate statement, the Department said it would continue to provide training to midwives across Australia.
Topics:health,health-policy,women,women-health,abortion,abortion-and-contraception,medical-professionals,fertility-and/or-gynecosis,government-and.gov.au,australia,melbourne-3000,vic,nsw,newcastle-2300,sydney-2000Contact Natalie AthertonMore stories from Victoria