National Maternity Services Capability Framework

This document provides a rigorous methodology to assist in woman-centred maternity service planning and to improve risk management in maternity care.

Page last updated: 2012

Date of publication: 2012

Word version: National Maternity Services Capability Framework (Word 99 KB)

PDF version: National Maternity Services Capability Framework (PDF 1152 KB large file)

The same publication in smaller sections:

Cover pages (PDF 69 KB)
Part 1 - Overview of National Maternity Services Capability Framework (PDF 131 KB)
Part 2 - Maternity Service Capability Framework levels (PDF 88 KB)

Appendices:
1.0 Complexity of care summary for maternity service levels (PDF 195 KB)
2.0 Workforce summary for maternity service levels (PDF 236 KB)
3.0 Clinical support services summary for maternity service levels (PDF 488 KB)
4.0 Service network and integration matrix (PDF 211 KB)

Glossary and references (PDF 68 KB)

Introduction - background, scope and purpose

The National Maternity Services Plan (the Plan), as endorsed by the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council in 2010, provides a number of strategic initiatives aimed at national maternity reform over a five year period. The development of the National Maternity Services Capability Framework (the Framework), is one of the initial year actions outlined in the Plan. Specifically, the Framework provides a rigorous methodology to assist in woman-centred maternity service planning and improve risk management in maternity care. A primary purpose of the Framework is to support the provision of safe maternity services in as many localities as possible across Australia in both the public and private sectors. It is important that planned maternity clinical activity is matched to the capability and sustainability of the local health service to ensure that women receive appropriate, timely care as close to home as possible and achieve optimal outcomes.

The Framework should be viewed as a high level document which complements and helps to inform the review and development of individual jurisdictionally based documents which may address additional specific nuances of local maternity services. It will also assist the clinician and the woman and her family to make an informed decision about the most appropriate place to undertake her confinement. The Framework was developed through an extensive consultation process and desk top research.

The Framework's purpose is to:

  • define the levels of maternity care in Australia by describing a set of criteria which identifies minimum requirements for each level of service provision
  • promote congruency across the country, providing a consistent language for healthcare providers and planners to use when describing and planning maternity services
  • assist health services to manage risk associated with the provision of maternity care and complement health services’ clinical governance systems, credentialing and scope of practice requirements
  • guide health service planning for maternity services
  • provide confidence to clinicians and consumers that services meet agreed minimum requirements for mother and newborn safety.
The Framework is intended for a broad audience, including consumers, clinical staff, managers and health service planners. It is not intended to replace clinical judgement or service-specific patient safety policies and procedures, but to complement and support the planning and/or provision of the full range of maternity health services.

The Framework is guided by a set of principles in an effort to ensure relevance to a wide range of practice settings while recognising the differing circumstances around the country which need to be accommodated.

These principles are that:

  • the best available evidence should underpin the delivery of safe and quality health services
  • there is alignment with legislation, regulations, legislative and non-legislative standards, guidelines, benchmarks, policies and frameworks, and relevant college standards
  • the Framework applies regardless of the model of care adopted by health facilities
  • service networks facilitate transfer and management of women appropriate to their care needs
  • there must be effective systems and guidelines for consultation, referral, transfer, risk assessment, screening and emergency evacuation.
The scope of this document is to provide guidance and support quality care across all Australian maternity services. The National Maternity Services Capability Framework describes minimum service capability requirements for both public and private maternity services across all rural, regional and metropolitan settings.