National Maternity Services Plan

Appendix A AHMAC initiatives

In recent years, AHMAC has initiated a range of projects aimed at improving maternity services in Australia. These AHMAC initiatives outline agreed principles for reform and set the context for the action described in the National Maternity Services Plan (the Plan).

Page last updated: 2011

Primary Maternity Services: A Framework for Implementation
National Evidence-Based Antenatal Care Guidelines
Core Competencies and Educational Framework for Maternity Services in Australia
National Maternal and Perinatal Mortality and Morbidity Reporting project
The Core Maternity Indicators project
The National Woman-Held Pregnancy Record project
National Maternal and Neonatal Services Capability Framework

Primary Maternity Services: A Framework for Implementation

The framework, endorsed by AHMAC in 2008, articulates principles for implementing primary maternity services as well as providing examples of best practice maternity service models in Australia. The eight principles identified for primary maternity services are:
  • Principle 1: Ensuring services enable women to make informed and timely choices regarding their maternity care, and to feel in control of their birthing experience.
  • Principle 2: Ensuring that maternity services and care are provided in a culturally appropriate and responsive manner according to the individual needs of each woman.
  • Principle 3: Maximising the potential of midwives, obstetricians, general practitioners and, where appropriate, other health professionals such as paediatricians and Aboriginal health workers with specific knowledge, skills and attributes to provide a collaborative, coordinated interdisciplinary approach to maternity service delivery.
  • Principle 4: Offering continuity of care and, wherever possible, continuity of carer as a key element of quality care.
  • Principle 5: Ensuring that maternity services are of a high quality, safe, sustainable and provided within an environment of evidence-based care.
  • Principle 6: Ensuring continued access to evidence-based maternity services and care at the local level, while recognising that the benefits of local access must be considered within a quality and safety framework.
  • Principle 7: Providing the right balance between primary level care and access to appropriate levels of medical expertise as clinically required.
  • Principle 8: Working to reduce the health inequalities faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies, and other disadvantaged populations

National Evidence-Based Antenatal Care Guidelines

Evidence-based clinical guidelines for antenatal care are being developed by AHMAC under the auspice of the National Health and Medical Research Council. An expert Advisory Committee has been convened to direct the guideline development, and the Maternity Services Inter-Jurisdictional Committee (MSIJC) is now a co-sponsor of this project with the Child Health and Wellbeing Subcommittee of the Australian Population Health Development Principal Committee.

Core Competencies and Educational Framework for Maternity Services in Australia

Detailed engagement with all maternity services and professions has been undertaken to develop a framework for education and core competencies for maternity professionals. The framework will be program based rather than profession based to promote interprofessional collaboration and evidence-based care by maternity professionals. This project is co-sponsored by the National Health Workforce Taskforce and the MSIJC.

National Maternal and Perinatal Mortality and Morbidity Reporting project

This project aims to ensure that: Top of page
  • national databases support the implementation of performance benchmarks
  • data definitions enable appropriate and valid data collection
  • definitions are consistent across jurisdictions and services
  • national data on primary maternity care are provided
The MSIJC is providing advice to AHMAC on the reporting and analysis of maternal and perinatal mortality data, and the potential for these data to inform quality improvement for maternity care.

The Core Maternity Indicators project

ACSQHC commenced development of the information for the Core Maternity Indicators project, which was transferred to the sponsorship of the MSIJC in 2008.

The MJISC has since convened an Expert Working Group to consider the relevance and currency of the indicators, and to make recommendations to AHMAC for a contemporary set of core national maternity indicators that will inform quality improvement in maternity services.

The National Woman-Held Pregnancy Record project

The MSIJC is developing a National Woman Held Pregnancy Record (NWHPR) to align with and complement the national electronic health records under development. Benefits of the handheld record include:
  • reduction in local variations in service and practice
  • improvement of the ability of women to move between different jurisdictions and professionals during their pregnancy as they take their records with them
  • elimination of the need for the history-taking process to be repeated with each new health professional
  • improvement in data capture about care provided and outcomes using the core dataset facilitated by the NWHPR
  • improvement in communication
  • improvement in risk management
The project includes an examination of jurisdictional and international handheld records, with recommendations for a national, standardised record due to be completed by July 2011.

National Maternal and Neonatal Services Capability Framework

The MSIJC is undertaking mapping and analysis of jurisdictional maternity and neonatal service capability frameworks. Recommendations will be delivered to the HPPPC for the potential aligning of jurisdictional frameworks to provide:
  • a standard set of capability requirements for most acute health facility services provided by health facilities
  • a consistent language for health care providers and planners to use when describing health services and planning service developments
The development of a National Services Capability Framework will enable nationally consistent benchmarking of clinical indicators as well as meaningful comparisons of maternal mortality and morbidity.

This project is due for completion in July 2011. Top of page