New arrangements for midwives factsheet

The Australian Government has announced a package of reforms to improve maternity services. This follows comprehensive consultations with stakeholders, health professionals, including midwives and obstetricians, and individual women.

Page last updated: 25 June 2012

PDF printable version of the New arrangements for midwives factsheet (PDF 370 KB)

These reforms recognise the important role played by qualified midwives in the birthing experience of many Australian women. The reforms will mean greater support for midwives in providing safe, quality services and continuity of care; and more choice in maternity care for pregnant women and new mothers.

Changes to MBS and PBS

From 1 November 2010, eligible midwives in Australia will be able to access both the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

For the first time:
  • midwives can charge for specific services under Medicare. Patients can claim rebates for services provided both before and after pregnancy, and during birth in a hospital setting, including a birth centre; and
  • midwives will be able to prescribe certain medicines that are listed on the PBS, which will provide patients with access to subsidised medicines.

Services covered

Under the new arrangements, services covered by Medicare are:
  • antenatal services;
  • delivery in a hospital setting – including a birth centre; and
  • postnatal services.

How to apply

To be recognised as an eligible midwife able to access the MBS and PBS, midwives must be trained and be either:
  • registered under the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme; or Top of page
  • registered with a state or territory board.
For more information about registration requirements, go to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia website.

To be able to provide MBS services and prescribe certain PBS-subsidised medicines, midwives need to meet eligibility requirements and apply for a Medicare provider number and/or a PBS prescriber number. To do so, visit the Medicare website for more information about Nurse practitioners and midwives.

Midwives can learn more about billing, claiming and prescribing at this website.

Eligibility requirements

To access the MBS and PBS, midwives must be privately practising. The rebate only applies to services provided to women who choose to use a privately practising midwife – i.e. state salaried midwives employed in the public hospital system will not be eligible to provide Medicare rebateable services to public patients.

To claim Medicare rebates for intra-partum services, care must be provided in a hospital, including a birth centre. This will require the midwife to have visitation rights agreed with the hospital.

Working collaboratively

To be able to provide Medicare rebateable services, eligible midwives must have a collaborative arrangement with an obstetrician or a medical practitioner who provides obstetric services (i.e. GP obstetrician).

Collaborative arrangements must provide for consultation, referral or transfer to an obstetrician or a medical practitioner who provides obstetric services, as clinically relevant to ensure safe, high quality maternity care. The details of collaborative arrangements can be found on the Commonwealth of Australia Law website.

The Australian Government has developed the National Guidance on Collaborative Maternity Care to support all health professionals on the implementation of reforms, particularly the requirement for collaborative arrangements. This document will be available on the National Health and Medical Research Council’s website.

Indemnity insurance – protection for midwives

Privately practising midwives are also now able to purchase Australian Government-supported professional indemnity insurance. This change came into effect from 1 July 2010 and will provide greater protection for midwives and women alike.

Midwives can purchase insurance from Medical Insurance Group Australia (MIGA). To do so, visit the MIGA website.

This insurance does not cover the planned delivery of babies in the home. Midwives in private practice will still need to have insurance for providing antenatal and postnatal services, regardless of the birth setting.

NOTE: Midwives working in hospitals, either public or private, are not affected by the new arrangements.

For more information, visit Maternity Service Reform - www.health.gov.au/maternity or call 1800 678 636. Top of page

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