RESPONSE [to the article below] by Community Midwifery WA
“In response to their objections we have updated the website to include a Research page – we are all for transparency and our aim is to provide women with evidence-based information to enable women to make an informed choice. See our new update page
The report was picked up by the ABC and the AMA and Simon Towler (Chief Medical Officer of WA Health) were interviewed. Dr Towler stood by their support of CMWA, the CMP and their own website “Having a Baby”.
Later on, Consumer spokesperson spoke on 6PR along with the AMA and – again – Dr Towler provide some comment. Again, the support of CMWA and CMP was very welcome.”
The following Article was published in The West Australian newspaper, Oct 13th page 17. Medical reporter Cathy O’Leary
Leading WA doctors have attacked the Health Department's promotion of home births on its website, saying it has biased information and fails to acknowledge the risks to women and their babies.
Dr Louise Farrell, the former WA head of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and the Australian Medical Association wants the information changed or a link to the Community Midwifery Program removed .
The department's webpage on home births refers to an external website detailing advantages and disadvantages.
Last year, the department released findings of an independent review of home birth safety that found they were generally no riskier when well supported, but doctors maintain they are riskier.
Dr Farrell said the department should promote the safest and best options for women yet was publicising a practice that had poorer outcomes.
It already had to remove information promoting home birth for women who previously had a caesarean after doctors complained. "But it still seems to promote home birth as an equally safe option compared to other models and I think there's a problem with that," Dr Farrell said.
AMA WA president Dave Mountain said the department should remove the website's content until it had more balanced information.
"Choice is a good thing, but I'm against ill-informed choice and the problem with the site is that it's extremely unbalanced and portrays home birth in a way which is highly supportive and uses biased language," he said. "Although there's some research suggesting that in very well-selected people home birth can be reasonably safe, there have been significant concerns about the rates of neonatal deaths and poor outcomes."
Chief medical officer Simon Towler said the department recognised some women wanted a home birth and referred them to the CMP, a publicly-funded service for low-risk women.
He said the recent review found a planned home birth with a qualified practitioner was a safe alternative for women at low risk of complications.
But the site was being changed to include references to the review and the RANZCOG policy on home birth.