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- Provide greater choice and access for pregnant women, new mothers and families;
- Present the medical profession with a unique opportunity to:
- Integrate midwives into your practice; and
- Give your patients more access to subsidised services and medicines; and
- Recognise the important role played by qualified midwives in the birthing experience.
Accessing more affordable maternity care
A key reform is aimed at making maternity care more affordable – allowing eligible midwives who work collaboratively with a medical practitioner to access the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
These new arrangements have important implications for you as a medical practitioner providing obstetric services.
From 1 November 2010, eligible midwives in Australia will be able to access both the MBS and PBS. For the first time:
- patients of participating midwives will be able to claim Medicare rebates for antenatal, intra-partum (in a hospital setting) and postnatal services; and
- midwives will be able to prescribe subsidised PBS medicines for their patients.
In order to provide MBS services and prescribe PBS medicines, 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.
What you need to know about collaborative arrangements
You may be approached by a midwife to enter into a collaborative arrangement. The following information may be of use:
- 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
- registered with a state or territory board.
- Midwives must hold appropriate professional indemnity insurance.
- There is no obligation on you to be part of a collaborative agreement.
Further information regarding the details of collaborative arrangements can be found in the Health Insurance Amendment Regulations 2010 (No 1)
at the ComLaw website
Insurance 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.
Eligible midwives can purchase insurance from Medical Insurance Group Australia (MIGA).
For more information
Under a collaborative arrangement, every member of the team should know exactly what their role is and how they need to work with each other – the focus is of course always on providing woman-centred care.
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. For more information, visit the National Health and Medical Research Council's website
For more information, visit the Department of Health and Ageing website or call 1800 678 636.