Midwives and doctors back maternity care consolidation

Activists who want to retain local maternity care wards around Norway are getting no support from midwives’ or gynecologists’ associations. The professionals want fewer, and bigger, birthing units.

Regional health care authorities have said they want to close four maternity wards and two midwife-run birthing units. In addition they want to withdraw gynecologists from two other birthing units. Thy claim it is less safe to give birth at a birthing unit in small local hospital wards than in large hospital maternity wards.

Both the Norwegian Gynecological Association and the Association of Midwives agree with a policy that centralizes birth resources. ”The worry is, among other things, that women giving birth are not transfered to maternity wards,” Bjørn Backe, head of the Norwegian Association of Gynecologists, told newspaper Aftenposten. Backe fears that birthing units reinforced with a gynecologist will accept and deliver children from women who should give birth in a maternity ward with better resources.

Marit Heiberg, head of the Norwegian Association of Midwives, worries about what she calls the “risk” created by high turnover of “short-stay gynecologists” at local birthing units.  She wants these units to be upgraded to full-scale maternity wards, function as a midwife-run birthing unit or else be axed.

The professionals  are having little impact on the populist movement that favours decentralized hospital care. “It should be possible to solve staffing, training and other issues,” Bente Øien Hauge, coordinator for the Folkebevegelsen for lokalsykehus, told Aftenposten.

Views and News staff