Calls for GPs to have greater role in maternity care

Paul Hayes

17/08/2018 3:15:51 PM

Women in vulnerable patient populations are at risk because GPs are being pushed out of maternity care ‘too often without any discussion’, according to the Chair of the RACGP Specific Interests Antenatal/Postnatal Care network.

Dr Wendy Burton says GPs are able to provide ongoing care long after a pregnancy.
Dr Wendy Burton says GPs are able to provide ongoing care long after a pregnancy.

‘I am alarmed at how little some of our midwifery and obstetric colleagues appreciate the broad scope of practice GPs have, and the skills we bring, such as mental health training and chronic disease management,’ Dr Wendy Burton told newsGP.
‘Where there are gaps in GP knowledge or work practices, these need to be noted and closed.’
These comments come as the Maternity Consumer Network (MCN) has called for a Senate inquiry (or a change in government trends) into not maintaining maternity services for women in rural and remote areas.
Dr Burton said all women, but especially those from potentially vulnerable patient populations like women in rural and remote areas, can benefit from having a GP involved in maternity care.
‘Women from communities including, but not limited, to Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander women, refugees, women affected by domestic violence, or women who in prison are particularly vulnerable,’ she said. ‘And, of course, our rural and remote women often rely upon GP obstetricians and anaesthetists to provide essential and complementary maternity services.’
Dr Burton was the lead author of the new RACGP position statement, Maternity care in general practice, which details the college’s belief in the vital role general practice plays in the provision of maternity care in communities throughout Australia.
‘This can be a life-and-death situation. The best healthcare outcomes for our nation start before conception, continue through pregnancy and into early childhood,’ Dr Burton said.
‘The Maternity care in general practice position statement is an important declaration of the role GPs can and should play within current and emerging models of care.
‘We are not only suitable as primary maternity carers for low-risk women; GPs are capable of providing care to women across the spectrum of risk, working firstly with our midwifery and obstetric colleagues and with other members of the healthcare team as appropriate.
‘And long after the episode of pregnancy-related care is finished, GPs can still provide care to women and their families. In many of our practices, continuity of care is measured in decades and generations.’

Antenatal care Maternity care in general practice Postnatal Care

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