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Saturday, June 12, 2021

Concerns home birth trial ‘too restrictive’

To date, 23 women have birthed through the ACT’s publicly funded home birth trial. However, the ACT Greens have called for improvements to the scheme, suggesting it is far too restrictive.

The three-year trial started in October 2016, with one to two home births being offered each month from February 2017. When the program was announced, the ACT Government originally anticipated the service would provide up to 24 home births each year.

ACT Greens Health spokesperson Shane Rattenbury said they would like to see the eligibility criteria relaxed to allow for more healthy mothers to birth at home with figures to date suggesting the trial is too restrictive.

“Obviously, we need to make sure mothers are safe during the birthing process, but home birthing can be perfectly safe for people who have the right assessment in their pregnancy and we think at the moment a too conservative approach is being taken,” Mr Rattenbury said.

While the Greens have always supported the trial, Mr Rattenbury said they are concerned the final evaluation will not include any recommendations to expand the current eligibility, meaning it will remain unnecessarily restrictive.

“The current program does not allow healthy first-time mothers who have had no complications to even enrol, let alone mothers who live more than 20 minutes from the hospital catchment,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“It’s no surprise that many Canberra women are simply not aware that the home birthing option even exists. On the other hand, some mothers who would like to birth at home but are ineligible for the program choose to birth at home – with less support, which may be less safe.”

A Canberra Health Services spokesperson said the eligibility criteria will remain the same until the final evaluation is completed; criteria will be reviewed as part of the evaluation later this year.

The next information session about the home birth service will be held at Centenary Hospital for Women and Children on Friday 29 March 5.30-6.30pm.

LRV driver suspended for near miss

Canberra Metro has suspended a light rail vehicle driver after an incident on Saturday 9 March.

Dashcam footage, which was circulated on the Canberra Drivers Facebook page, shows a Light Rail Vehicle (LRV) traverse through a red T-light on Flemington Road, almost colliding with a car.

In a statement, Canberra Metro “confirmed driver error to be the cause of the incident”.

“Safety of the public and our staff is Canberra Metro’s highest priority and we regret that on this occasion this founding principle of the Canberra light rail project has not been upheld,” the statement said. “Following the rules of the road is the key to staying safe around light rail and this applies as much to ourselves as it does other road users.

“In accordance with Canberra Metro Operations policies, the LRV driver has been suspended from driving duties while a full investigation takes place. As the investigation is still underway, we are unable to provide further information at this stage.”

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