We first reported on this serious issue in March when the announcement was made of the redeployment of Maternal and Child Health Nurses (MCHNs) into the very stretched health service as a result of the COVID pandemic.
However with the end to this Local Government Authorities (LGAs) are reporting restrictions will continue due to COVID-related workforce shortages, including the cities of Wyndham and Melton.
There are real concenrs for the health and safety for mothers and babies could be going undetected as infant and maternal health checks remain suspended in parts of Melbourne’s west due to these workforce issues.
Jennifer Weber, CEO for the Caroline Chisholm Society, said the ongoing pause was a “worrying” trend because maternal checks played a vital role in early screening for heath problems, providing referrals and identifying risk factors like domestic violence and postnatal depression.
“This is your universal service, and it’s not operating as a universal service,” she told Guardian Australia.
“How much more can this system be put under this pressure before somebody says enough is enough?”
The maternal checks – a free service offered by all local councils – monitors babies’ key development factors like weight and diet and provides support and advice for parents.
Dr Weber said the service was receiving reports of parents using blogs to find out information because they were unable to see a maternal and child health nurse.
“Families are reporting things like – their babies are not smiling. So then where do families go to [get] their information?
“We don’t want mothers having to then go to blogs to find out: ‘Is this where my child should be in their development?’”
Dr Weber said Caroline Chisholm Society advocated for increased funding for family service organisations to partner with maternal health services to relieve some of the pressure and ensure parents and babies did not “slip into vulnerability”.
Read More on this important issue: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/apr/13/babies-missing-out-on-health-checks-in-melbourne-due-to-covid-related-workforce-shortages