Midwives and nurse practitioners

Information on the expanded role of eligible midwives and nurse practitioners in the delivery of Australian health services.

Page last updated: 30 October 2015

Eligible Midwives

Eligible midwives can provide antenatal, intra-partum and post natal services. Eligible midwives can also provide services using a number of Medicare telehealth support items.
  • The antenatal items include: an initial antenatal attendance, short and long antenatal consultations and a maternity care plan item.
  • There is also an additional item for an obstetric antenatal attendance at 32-36 weeks gestation.
  • The intra-partum items allow for the midwife to attend the labour and undertake the delivery in a hospital setting, with the option for a second midwife to take over if labour continues in excess of 12 hours.
  • There are also additional obstetric items to enable the midwives to transfer a woman’s care to an obstetrician to manage the labour and/or delivery should complications arise.
  • The postnatal items include short and long postnatal consultations and a six week postnatal attendance, after which the woman would see her usual GP.
  • Midwives are able to refer his or her patients to an obstetrician or the baby to a paediatrician as the clinical need arises and request certain diagnostic imaging and pathology tests.
  • The telehealth support items allow midwives to provide clinical support to patients who are participating in video consultations with specialists or consultant physicians.
  • For Medicare benefits to be payable, maternity services provided by a participating midwife must be consistent with collaborative arrangements in place for the patient.

Change to MBS Item 82120 - Midwifery Intrapartum Care

Participating midwife transferring care to another participating midwife under ‘exceptional circumstances’

Under the ‘exceptional circumstances’ rule, both the referring participating midwife and the second participating midwife (the midwife to whom care is transferred) are eligible to claim MBS item 82120. MBS item 82120 is normally only payable once for any pregnancy.

The ‘exceptional circumstances’ rule can be invoked when the patient’s referring participating midwife is satisfied that she/he is suffering from illness or fatigue that necessitates the care of the mother be transferred to another participating midwife within 12 hours of the time the referring participating midwife began providing intrapartum care to the mother.

If the original participating midwife then resumes responsibility for the care of the woman, and the second participating midwife therefore relinquishes her/his care, the original participating midwife may not claim MBS item 82120 a second or subsequent time.

Eligible Nurse Practitioners

  • Eligible nurse practitioners have four consultation items which are time-tiered. This item structure enables the nurse practitioner to treat patients with a broad range of medical conditions in a variety of settings, including aged care facilities.
  • Eligible nurse practitioners also have access to six time-tiered telehealth support items, three of which may be used in residential aged care facilities.
  • Nurse practitioners are also able to perform certain pathology tests and request a range of pathology and diagnostic services, and refer patients to specialists and consultant physicians within their scope of practice.

Other Information

Principles that Underpin Communication between Eligible Midwives and Obstetricians (GP or Specialist)

Questions and Answers

Eligible Midwives 1 November 2013
Eligible Nurse Practitioners 1 January 2014

Fact Sheet:

Information for Pathology Providers

PBS arrangements for Midwives and Nurse Practitioners

From 1 November 2010 midwives and nurse practitioners authorised as PBS prescribers are able to write prescriptions for certain medicines under the PBS.

Further information is available at the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme website
Explanatory notes – Nurse Practitioners
Explanatory notes – Midwives
Application form for provider and prescriber numbers for midwives and nurse practitioners available from the Medicare Australia website.

Further information on the Medicare items in support of midwife and nurse practitioner services is available from Medicare Australia on 132 150 (for providers) or 132 011 (for patients); by emailing the MBS Online in box.

Additional information on the Department of Health and Ageing Nursing Portal and Maternity services reform