OPINION: Midwifery vital to B.C. healthcare system

B.C. government failing to recognize importance of midwives in maintaining adequate healthcare across province: physician

Based on more than 30 years of practice as a newborn care specialist and family physician attending births, I have great concern that women in British Columbia and throughout Canada have insufficient numbers of appropriate care providers available to care for them, and this maternity care gap is growing.

Increasingly some women and families have to travel hundreds of kilometres to access quality maternity care.

This puts tremendous strain on expectant mothers and their families, particularly in rural and First Nations communities, where the shortage of maternity care is experienced most acutely.

When women have to leave their communities to receive essential maternity care, they experience increased stress and health risks.

Adverse outcomes increase for both the mother and baby, even when excellent care is finally provided in distant locations, leading as well to increased costs to families and the provincial health care system.

BC’s growing maternity care gap is due to a decline in the number of family physicians practicing obstetrics coupled with the closure of more than twenty rural maternity services since 2000.

This gap is even more troubling when you consider the number of births in our province is projected to increase to over 50,000 by 2020.

While I am a family physician who strongly supports family practice maternity care, I have also been an advocate for midwifery as being part of the solution.

Although there have been recent increases in the number of posts for midwife trainees, we are still not training enough midwives.

Wait lists at most midwifery practices are currently far outstripping demand.

I thought for a time our government was beginning to recognize the vital role midwives play in the province’s maternity care system.

However, based on the current situation, where midwives have finally felt it necessary to withdraw clinical education services at UBC and terminate their contact with the B.C. Ministry of Health, it is clear the government fails to understand or value the role of midwifery in B.C.

The reality is that midwives can increase access to maternity care in urban and rural communities and help to improve health outcomes for mothers and newborns.

It is time for the provincial government to recognize this fact.

Dr. Michael Klein is Professor Emeritus of Family Practice and Pediatrics at UBC, and the former head of the Department of Family Practice at BC Children’s and Women’s Hospital and currently Senior Scientist Emeritus at the Child and Family Research Institute in Vancouver.

 

Just Posted

Langford liquor store targeted by thieves twice in one night

West Shore RCMP seek to identify break and enter suspect

Field named for longtime Hampton Little League volunteer

‘Curt Waldner Field’ recognizes years of dedication put in by former little league dad

Saanich honours lifetime of conservation efforts

Mary Haig-Brown wins environmental award for 40 years of extensive volunteer work

Victoria teen killed by falling tree remembered as hero

Tai Caverhill was the first to spot the tree falling towards him and his friends

Wind gusts turn away cruise ships from Victoria harbour

Weather conditions make docking difficult for large ships

Air Canada reviewing how crew left sleeping passenger on parked plane

In a Facebook post, the woman said she woke up ‘all alone’ on a ‘cold dark’ aircraft

Four-year-old boy assaulted at B.C. soccer game

It happened at a weekend tournament in Ashcroft

Top B.C. court upholds ruling that struck down indefinite solitary confinement

Feds had appealed ruling in case brought by B.C. Civil Liberties Association, John Howard Society

Two bear cubs saved near Revelstoke after mother hit by car

Conservation officers trapped the cubs and transported them to a wildlife sanctuary

Heroism medal for B.C. woman who tried to save wheelchair-bound man stuck on rail tracks

Julie Callaghan awarded Carnegie Medal from U.S.-based foundation for ‘extraordinary heroism’

Surrey RCMP raises Pride flag amid din of protesters

There were about 30 protesters on either side, and 20 Mounties doing crowd control

B.C. students’ camping trip goes ahead despite tents getting stolen

Nanaimo businesses, school staff and parents ensure trip goes on

Only legal pot shop between Vancouver and Kamloops now open

Private cannabis store on Skwah land in Chilliwack is first B.C. licensee to be Indigenous owned

B.C. judge defies lawyers and adds six months to man’s sex assault sentence

‘I find the joint submission is contrary to the public interest and I’m rejecting it’

Most Read