Counting maternity : the measure of midwifery in Australia, 2002

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The aim of this Professional Doctorate in Midwifery is to challenge the status quo in maternity services through scholarly reflection and research. Through the studies reported here I aim to provide women with information on which to make informed choices about the services available to them, and to ensure politicians become more responsive to the lack of options currently available in Australia. My aim is also to provide measures that would allow maternity service managers to deploy resources more efficiently to achieve the best care. The majority of the papers in the portfolio are derived from population data that is routinely collected in Australia. One of the cornerstones of healthcare improvement is creating meaningful information and measurement from these collections. True comparisons from accurate data can be used to better understand the nature of the system, and to gauge whether changes have been effective. Thus, the information derived from various collections of routinely collected data is used to measure and evaluate the maternity services. This measures only part of the experience of childbirth, however. The Doctorate is a collection of nine major works undertaken in the years 1999 to 2002, during my appointment as a research midwife with the Australian Midwifery Action Project (AMAP). The first paper is an essay that tells of the juxtaposition of two different worldviews and the paradigmatic issues that shape the professional differences between obstetrics and midwifery. The second consists of a brief overview of the Australian maternity system described within the terms of reference for a Senate Inquiry into Childbirth Procedures. The third and fourth papers explore the levels of obstetric intervention for low risk women and the cost of these interventions using a new costing model derived from population data. The fifth paper reviews the contemporary issues in the workforce and education of midwives. The sixth paper outlines a proposal for funding reform and a new model of midwifery care. The seventh paper compares midwifery in Australia and New Zealand, in terms of a public health strategy. The eighth paper explores the concept of a new research method called Graffiti; and the final paper continues the theme of measurement in an essay titled 'Evidence based Everything. The portfolio explores a number of issues around public funding and the call for reform of the maternity services in Australia. In particular it argues for reforms to fund a more responsive service, based on values outlined by women who experience maternity care in Australia, as opposed to those guided by obstetrics and technology who currently set the agenda and determine the way maternity services will be offered and funded. Although I have articulated and measured some of the characteristics of midwifery and obstetric care in Australia, this disentangling or quantification merely underlies and emphasises the many more continuations and complexities that coexist beyond that, which is 'measured'.
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