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National Framework for Maternity Services scrapped following AMA concerns

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The AMA has welcomed the decision to scrap the National Framework for Maternity Services (NFMS) due to its flawed process.

The process involved inadequate stakeholder consultation and the spectacular failure to adequately engage expert obstetric, general practice, and other crucial medical specialists in its development.

AMA Vice President Dr Tony Bartone said obstetricians and GPs share the bulk of the care for women throughout their pregnancies and leaving them out of the NFMS process was a critical misjudgement.

“GPs are there with mothers at every stage of their pregnancy, including their postnatal care, and should never have been overlooked in the NFMS,” Dr Bartone said.

“The AMA has consistently warned that without genuine engagement with the medical profession, the review would be doomed to fail – which is exactly what has happened today.”

AMA Federal Councillor Dr Gino Pecoraro, an obstetrician and gynaecologist, attended a consultation forum on June 23 that led to the decision to scrap the NFMS.

“Today’s decision to scrap the flawed NFMS is a win for the women and children of Australia,” Dr Pecoraro said.

“What has happened has been a monumental missed opportunity to achieve the best possible maternity care for mothers and babies.”

Following an agreement at the April 2016 COAG Health Council meeting, the Queensland Government was tasked to lead the project to develop the NFMS, under the auspices of the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (AHMAC).

The AMA first became aware of the NFMS project in December 2016 – eight months after it commenced, and without any direct contact from AHMAC’s Maternity Care Policy Working Group (MCPWG) or its consultants – and has raised concerns about the project ever since.

The AMA’s concerns are shared by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) and the National Association of Specialist Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (NASOG).

Obstetrician-led care is an essential tenet of Australia’s maternity system.

There is clear and compelling evidence that shows that obstetrician involvement translates into lower mortality rates and fewer complications, not to mention lower costs.

“The AMA remains committed to work to see a strong NFMS,” said Dr Bartone.

Chris Johnson