Obstetrician Raises Concerns About Midwife-Centric Healthcare Model in Queensland

Obstetrician Raises Concerns About Midwife-Centric Healthcare Model in Queensland

In Queensland, concerns have been raised about some women going through their entire pregnancies without seeing a doctor due to the predominant use of midwives in the state's healthcare system. Dr. Gino Pecoraro, the president of the National Association of Specialist Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, expressed worries about the risks posed to mothers and babies by a healthcare model that he described as "midwife-centric." This critique comes in the wake of an ABC investigation that uncovered allegations of substandard maternal care at Redcliffe Hospital, leading to tragic outcomes such as baby deaths, stillbirths, and maternal injuries that could impact future pregnancies.

The investigation revealed that Redcliffe Hospital had received numerous official warnings and reports about flawed care practices, and even though some of these concerns were downgraded, the systemic issues within the hospital were not disclosed to the public. A subsequent independent assessment of the hospital's maternity care resulted in 37 recommendations, including the necessity of appointing a full-time staff specialist obstetrician to address the deficiencies in care. Dr. Pecoraro stressed the importance of involving obstetricians in cases where pregnancies deviate from the norm, highlighting the potential dangers of relying solely on midwives to recognize and manage complex situations.

According to Dr. Pecoraro, the historic practice of a multidisciplinary team approach, involving obstetricians, midwives, and other healthcare professionals, has been paramount in ensuring comprehensive care for pregnant women. He noted that in Queensland, particularly in regional and rural areas, attracting specialists has been challenging due to the dominance of a midwife-centric care model. The concern raised by Dr. Pecoraro is that the current system, where specialists are called in only when complications arise, not only poses risks for doctors but also may lead to delayed identification of issues during pregnancies, potentially impacting maternal and infant health outcomes.