Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) staff have showcased outstanding local achievements at the 7th Rural Health and Research Congress in Tamworth.
In line with the Congress’ 2018 theme ‘Beyond distance and diagnosis’, the WNSWLHD Maternity Service presented the innovative concept of “Grown our Own”, a sustainable Midwifery Workforce Solution.
Presenter and Clinical Midwifery Consultant Tammy O’Connor said ““Our Local Health District covers such vast distances including regional rural and remote areas which poses significant challenges to our health services, women who access our service and in particular the rural and remote midwifery workforce.
Women seeking maternity care can sometimes be disadvantaged when living in rural and remote locations, Western NSW LHD is committed to increasing access to quality community based antenatal and postnatal services.
To increase the number of skilled midwives working and living in rural and remote areas, something had to change Tammy said. “It made sense to provide local training opportunities for staff wishing to become a midwife”.
Alison Loudon, Co-Presenter and District Manager, Maternity Strategies commented“ For this to occur, we had to step away from the traditional hospital-based model and were the first in NSW to trial a student midwife within a community based rural non-birthing location. Through partnerships with birthing facilities within and external to our LHD, we were able to ensure the student completed all of the clinical and university requirements associated with registration as a midwife.
“We have had great success with this trial, seeing the student graduating and now working rural and remote as a permanently employed Registered Midwife. In addition to our workforce solution, the women within the rural and remotes areas have identified experiencing a positive pregnancy journey, stating they felt emotionally and socially supported.
The results also recognised women were more engaged with the maternity service as increased numbers of women were receiving comprehensive assessments before 14 weeks gestation, more women are quitting smoking during their pregnancies and increasing numbers of women are breastfeeding their babies upon discharge from hospital.
Not only has this program been successful for our LHD, but it also won the Agency for Clinical Innovation, Rural Health Innovation Award for Concurrent Presentation at the Congress.
The winning didn’t finish there, the WNSWLHD Aboriginal Maternal Infant Health Service and Health Promotion Team won the Judges Choice Poster award for their Quit for New Life poster.
“We know the fabulous things our staff are doing across the Local Health District, but to be recognised at the Congress is a fantastic boost. We are so proud of our staff for their dedication and commitment to improving health in rural and regional NSW.” Julie said.