Supporting midwives' health
The Council is required to protect the health and safety of the public by ensuring that midwives are both competent and fit to practise midwifery. When concerns are raised about a midwife's fitness to practise because of a mental or physical condition, the Council is required to make enquiries about that midwife's state of health.
Concerns about a midwife's health
Under section 45 of the HPCA Act, people in particular roles must inform the Council if they have reason to believe a midwife is unable to safely practise. These people are:
- a person in charge of an organisation that provides health services
- a health practitioner
- the midwife's employer
- a medical officer of health
Any other person who has concerns about a midwife's health may notify the Council. The Council has developed policy to address concerns where a midwife is brought to the Council's attention because it appears they cannot make safe judgments, demonstrate normal levels of competence or behave appropriately in accordance with ethical, legal and practice guidelines. There are a number of factors which increase the likelihood that a concern is more appropriately dealt with as a health issue rather than as a competence or conduct issue, for example, evidence of acute stress in the midwife's life or evidence of a physical or mental illness. This is not an exhaustive list.
The midwife is invited to comment on the concerns raised. The Council may require the midwife to undergo a medical examination (as provided for in the HPCA Act) and will may meet the midwife to discuss the findings and any recommendations in the medical report. The Council may then take a range of actions aimed at supporting the midwife to remain safely in practice. It balances this desire to support the midwife to regain her health with the need to protect the health and safety of the public.
Most notifications about a midwife's health come from the midwife themself. In doing this, the midwife is seeking to ensure that they are practising safely and asking for the Council's support around theirpractice.
Midwives wanting to make a disclosure regarding their health status to the Council should complete the Voluntary Health Disclosure and send to the Council.
If you have concerns, based on evidence, about the health of a midwife, please contact:
The Council's Registrar
(04) 499 5040
or write to the Registrar.