HEALTH--PLANS TO ENHANCE MATERNITY CARE IN NOVA SCOTIA ----------------------------------------------------------------- Health care services for new moms and babies will improve in Nova Scotia as a result of a report released today. The Reproductive Care Program presented the report, titled The Potential for Midwifery in Nova Scotia: A Review by the Reproductive Care Program for Nova Scotia on Behalf of the Nova Scotia Department of Health, to the Department of Health. The former minister of health, Ron Stewart, requested the review in April 1996. "The report is the evidence-based information we need to move forward to enhance maternity health care services in Nova Scotia," said Health Minister Jim Smith. "It will help us to identify the maternity care services necessary to meet the needs of women and newborns across the province, including rural areas." In response to the report's recommendations concerning midwifery, the Department of Health is committed to further exploring the possibility of legislating midwifery in Nova Scotia through consultations with key stakeholders, including the Medical Society of Nova Scotia, the Registered Nurses Association of Nova Scotia, regional health boards and hospitals. "This is the first time the department has taken such a comprehensive look at midwifery," said Dr. Smith. "Further consultations are needed to ensure we are working in the best interests of new mothers and babies." The Department of Health will take immediate action to implement many of the report's recommendations for enhancing current maternity health care services. Also, the department is already in the early planning phase for initiating regional projects to enhance primary care services such as maternity care. It is at the primary care level that people generally make their first point of contact with the health care system. Health professionals including physicians, nurses and obstetricians, the general public, midwives and special interest groups contributed to the report through a provincewide consultation that included focus groups, a 1-800 line and written submissions. Highlights of the recommendations include: -sharing the feedback received during the consultative process with maternity care providers, hospital administrators, community and regional health boards. -developing a provincial strategy and time-line for educating all health professionals about respectful, culturally sensitive health care. -assisting community hospitals that do not offer a maternal-newborn program to develop relevant policies related to the assessment and care of healthy women during early labour and/or anticipated birth. -establishing provincial guidelines for prenatal clinics. -developing a strategy to ensure the skills of caregivers in each region are appropriate to the level and type of maternity services offered. -exploring the feasibility of hospitals offering cost-shared tuition reimbursement programs or interest-free loans to encourage continuing education by maternity nurses. The Reproductive Care Program is the recognized provincial authority on maternal and newborn health. The program has played a major role in improving standards of prenatal care for Nova Scotians during the 22 years since its inception. In addition, midwifery literature and the status of midwifery in other provinces was reviewed. Copies of the report are available by calling 1-800-565-3611. -30- Contact: Sue McKeage Department of Health 902-424-3581 e-mail: cb Tuesday, September 16, 1997 12:35 p.m.