‘Brilliant’ NSW maternity initiative should be expanded to other states

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The state will fund a team of obstetricians and midwives to provide over-the-phone counselling and support to rural and regional women needing more care.

The NSW government has announced a new initiative to improve early access to specialist maternity care for regional and rural women by funding midwives and obstetricians to support local communities, a plan one expert called “a brilliant idea”. 

The Pregnancy Connect program will staff 12 fulltime equivalent midwives and eight FTE obstetricians. The services will connect women with higher risk pregnancies to regular antenatal care through expanded virtual services and supported transfer of women who need more care. 

The team of obstetricians will provide over-the-phone support to existing regional and rural maternity clinicians, hopefully reducing feelings of isolation among clinicians. 

Speaking to Health Services Daily, Associate Professor Gino Pecoraro, president of the National Association of Specialist Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said the initiative sounded like “a brilliant idea”. 

“It seems so simple,” he said. 

“NASOG certainly supports increasing access for women and their carers to obstetricians. 

“And if it works in NSW, I see no reason why it shouldn’t be rolled out elsewhere, especially to the states with much, much more distance involved.” 

Professor Pecoraro said it was interesting that this initiative was being rolled out in arguably Australia’s most compact state, in terms of population density, when other states with much more spread out populations had not yet adopted a similar program.  

Pregnancy Connect will receive an ongoing annual investment of $6.19 million, as announced by NSW Health Minister Ryan Park at the First 2000 Days 2024 Symposium held on Monday

The symposium aimed to explore the importance of early life health. 

“The NSW Government is committed to building a healthy foundation that lasts a lifetime,” said Mr Park. 

“We know that the first 2000 days of a child’s life is a critical time for physical, cognitive, social and emotional health with a flow on impact throughout their life. 

“By working together and directing our efforts to better support children and their families, we can make a big difference and improve long term health outcomes for everyone.” 

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