The recent media report on the Cochrane review of midwifery led maternal-infant care versus physician-led care should cause Health P.E.I. and the government to reflect on how we could serve women and babies better on P.E.I.
The review concluded that professional midwifery led services compare favourably on some outcomes and actually provide superior care in areas such as comprehensive care; fewer interventions and greater patient satisfaction.
In P.E.I. the vast majority of women receive their perinatal care from specialists obstetricians & gynecologists - when the majority of women are low risk. Caesarean section rates on P.E.I. exceed 35 per cent - a statistic that is shockingly out of line with other Canadian jurisdictions and suggests that many women are receiving unnecessary surgical intervention. This is costly in terms of individuals, health care provider resources and system capacity.
Further, since specialists are providing obstetrical care to low risk women, those women who are referred for gynecological care are waiting unnecessarily long for specialized women’s non-obstetrical health care.
Anecdotally, women wait for up to one year for a specialist appointment. This is a health policy space that is crying out for a different approach and there is strong evidence that professional midwifery services could resolve a number of system pressures. When will P.E.I. get in line with other jurisdictions and provide P.E.I. women and infants with the standard of care enjoyed by people in other regions in Canada and the western world?
Kathleen MacMillan, PhD, RN