Narrowing the gap in access to maternity care

  • Group of people in front of hospital entrance sign
  • Group of people seated at a large table

OGET participants in Broome, WA.

By
Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Mel Pietsch,
Head of Engagement
and Rural Health;
Lisa Egan,
OGET Project Coordinator
Issue
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The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) recognises the essential need for equitable delivery of health services in Australia. Time and time again, data highlights a significant maldistribution of the workforce – country towns suffer from a dearth of doctors and nurses – and a lack of upskilling and training opportunities in rural, regional and remote areas.

Limited access has made it difficult for GP Obstetricians to undertake supervised procedural training. Consequently, there are significant gaps in access to maternity services in rural, regional and remote Australia.

RANZCOG’s Obstetrics and Gynaecology Education and Training (OGET) project is helping to narrow this gap.

An Australian-Government-funded project, OGET brings together medical professionals including GP Obstetricians, midwives and O&G specialists, offering upskilling and education in rural and remote maternity care.

The project is delivered via four hubs providing onsite and outreach training to rural and remote areas of Australia, with plans to expand to all states and territories (excluding the Australian Capital Territory) this year.

The hubs are located at:

  • Royal Darwin Hospital – covering the Northern Territory and northern Western Australia.
  • Orange Health Services – covering areas of Mudgee, Cowra, Parkes and Forbes, in New South Wales.
  • Warrnambool Hospital – covering Hamilton, Colac, Portland and Camperdown, in Victoria.
  • Sunshine Coast University Hospital – covering Gympie and Kingaroy, in Queensland.

OGET uses a hub-and-spoke model in the form of case-based learning and interactive forums, primarily face to face but with overarching modules delivered online.

Training has covered:

  • Placenta abruption
  • Primary PPH
  • Secondary PPH and sepsis
  • Trauma in pregnancy
  • Flat baby at birth
  • LUSCS at fully dilated. 

We are evaluating each session to help identify further opportunities to improve the quality of education and training provided, but the feedback we have received from participants about how they will apply what they have learnt, has been positive. The sessions have created productive and solid multidisciplinary discussions.

What started in July 2022 as a one-year pilot has been extended until the end of February 2025, with RANZCOG hopeful the Australian Government will commit long term.

Adequate health services, including maternity care, underpin the success of every community and are the base upon which other services develop and thrive. In turn, this translates into economic, social and cultural benefits.

RANZCOG is supporting specialists, GP Obstetricians, midwives, nurses and allied health staff through education and upskilling programs, ensuring quality of care for all Australians.

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