Midwifery care costs less and delivers equally safe care

By Mariam Digges

Midwifery care costs less and delivers equally safe care
Midwifery care is more cost effective and just as safe as standard hospital care, according to a world-first study.

A University of Sydney study has become the first ever to compare caseload midwifery care through pregnancy with standard public hospital care in a randomised controlled trial.

Published today in The Lancet, the trials concluded that caseload midwifery reduced interventions in birth and hence decreased costs.

Led by Sally Tracy, Professor of Midwifery at the University of Sydney, the study recruited 1,748 pregnant women from Sydney’s Royal Hospital for Women and Brisbane’s Mater Mother’s Hospital and assigned them either a caseload midwife (871) or regular maternity care (877).

The study concluded that more women in caseload midwifery experienced an unassisted vaginal birth without the need for pharmacological analgesia, and fewer women underwent an elective caesarean.

In both groups, newborn infants showed similar physical assessment scores. The average cost of birth per woman was AU$566.74 less with caseload midwifery than with standard care.

Professor Tracy believes that: “Caseload midwifery care has been largely overlooked because of the incorrect belief that the service will be too expensive and that the model is not safe for complex pregnancies.

Our randomised trial showed that caseload care can achieve similar outcomes to standard care – and it costs the public purse significantly less.”

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