ANMF Support call for North West Maternity to Return to Tasmanian Health Service

10 February 2023

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) Tasmanian Branch echo and support the calls from the Australian Medical Association (AMA) to have maternity services at the North West Maternity Unit returned to the Tasmanian Health Service following years significant staffing and governance challenges.

Since late 2022, the ANMF has written to the Chair of the contract committee between Healthecare and the Tasmanian Health Service highlighting the staffing and safety concerns that Midwives have consistently been raising, the Department of Health Licensing Unit, the Tasmanian Health Service Transition Team as well as lodging a dispute with the Fair Work Commission over insufficient staffing of Midwives.

‘Despite the very best efforts of Midwives at the North West Hospital Private Maternity Unit to escalate their concerns via every available avenue to have these addressed to ensure the safety of women in the North West accessing birthing services, no tangible outcomes have been secured. This is simply because there is insufficient staffing with Midwives resorting to sleeping overnight at the North West Private Hospital just to ensure the safety of women presenting’, said ANMF Tasmanian Branch Secretary Emily Shepherd.

The proposed transition of birthing services has been supported and long called for by the ANMF including during the grievance in 2017 which resulted in an initial review of North West Maternity Services, however the 2024 transition date is too late when the service is already untenable.

‘Members have flagged that there are significant roster gaps, with up to a 7 day period in coming weeks where no Midwives are currently rostered. It is just impossible to continue to with the current service delivery of birthing at the North West Private Hospital without compromising the safety of women and their babies.’

The ANMF believe the early transition of birthing back to the Tasmanian Health Service will allow for consolidation of staffing and the development of a sustainable, and importantly safe, service until a longer-term service profile is developed. The leasing of the existing space at the North West Private Hospital for birthing services would also allow for a purpose built facility to be constructed as part of the North West Master Plan.

‘The Tasmanian Government must act now, before birthing services in the North West become totally unviable.’

Media contact:
Emily Shepherd, ANMF Tasmanian Branch Secretary
Mobile: 0400 884 021