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Government ‘urgently’ exploring PI solutions for intrapartum services outside of hospitals 

The Federal Government is “urgently” investigating options to extend professional indemnity (PI) insurance and the Midwife Professional Indemnity Scheme for intrapartum care outside of a hospital setting provided by endorsed midwives. 

The Department of Health and Aged Care made the announcement last week after it became aware of a PI cover gap that directly impacts all midwives who provide private midwifery services in the intrapartum period at a place other than a hospital. 

“This means that women who are planning to birth in hospital with a private midwife will be unable to have intrapartum care provided by their midwife outside of hospital and may be asked to attend hospital,” the department said. 

“This applies to all midwives providing this care, not just those with admitting rights.” 

The Australian College of Midwives (ACM) has called on the Government to provide a “timely resolution” to the matter to minimise the impact on women, their families, midwives provision of care and a workable insurance solution. 

ACM says the sole insurance policy for endorsed midwives has an exclusion which affects provision of maternity care. 

Specifically, midwives Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) policy for endorsed midwives, and its Healthcare Practice Policy, contracted by Government, exclude intrapartum care (early labour care) provided outside of a hospital, the ACM said. 

ACM says it has been actively liaising with all key stakeholders including the insurer, MIGA, the Department of Health and the Government to identify a workable approach to resolving this issue. 

“This gap in insurance cover has significant and negative implications for a woman’s choice of care. It does not allow midwives to work to full scope of practice, particularly in primary care,” Chief Midwife Alison Weatherstone said. 

“It impacts continuity of midwifery care, the evidence-based gold standard of maternity care. It impacts Birthing On Country models of care, priority populations and women planning hospital birth but wanting in-home midwifery support during the early stages of their labour.” 

In July the Government extended for another two years the PI insurance exemption for midwives in private practice to continue providing homebirth services. The exemption to June 30 2025 means they can carry on without acquiring the mandatory insurance. 

The ACM says while midwives are exempt from a requirement to hold PII for home birth, they are required to hold insurance for all other aspects of care.