Claims that private maternity care is unsafe have been rebuffed as misleading and dangerous by Australian Private Hospitals Association (APHA) CEO Michael Roff.
Responding to statements made by a Queensland Health bureaucrat, Mr Roff said private maternity care is high quality and the best choice for many mothers and their babies.
“There is no evidence that private maternity care is in any way inferior to the public system – in fact there is significant research showing the opposite is true. However, what is most concerning about these comments is that mothers and babies have been a sideline to it, rather than the focus,” he said.
Mr Roff said it was a personal decision to choose private maternity care, and doing so could be based on concerns about complications during pregnancy or birth, or a desire to have more support following the delivery.
“Choosing a private hospital means you see the same doctor and same midwives throughout your pregnancy and birth, people you choose to care for you. There are lactation specialists on hand following birth and even after you get home – if that is the care you want, then you have a right to choose it,” he said.
Mr Roff said the private hospital sector has excellent perinatal and maternal outcomes, and it provides high-quality services.
“To suggest otherwise is quite simply wrong, and these statements are disturbing for their factual inaccuracies and their potential to cause confusion.
“Private hospitals play a crucial role in the provision of health services throughout Australia and are a critical element of the healthcare system across a range of healthcare, including maternity services. We should value that, not undermine it,” Mr Roff added.
His stance is supported by the president of the National Association of Specialist Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (NASOG), Dr Stephen Lane.
“Mothers should stay in hospitals as long as is necessary for their health and safety, and the private system provides this environment,” he said. “To suggest otherwise is dangerous and irresponsible.”
He cited a study which concluded that babies born in Australian private hospitals are more likely to survive than those born in public hospitals.
“The care provided by obstetricians and gynaecologists in private hospitals is second to none,” Dr Lane said.