News Release Archive

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

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

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.


Contact: Sue McKeage
         Department of Health

cb          Tuesday, September 16, 1997   12:35 p.m.