Maternity carers

The designated or lead maternity carer is the health professional coordinating the care for women during the antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal periods. Just under half of all models of care (45%) have a midwife—public (midwives employed in the public health system) as the designated carer. This is an essential component of all models classified as midwifery group practice caseload care (100%), but is also found in a large number of models classified as public hospital maternity care (62%). The next most common type of designated carer is a shared care arrangement (15% of models), followed by a specialist obstetrician—public (14%), and a specialist obstetrician—private (12%). Having a shared care arrangement indicates the model does not have a single designated carer and that the carer may change at different times or be shared.

Collaborative maternity carers are other health professionals that work in partnership with the designated carer to provide maternity care. Common collaborative carers include a specialist obstetrician—public (47% of models), a midwife—public (44%) and a GP obstetrician (17%). All models of care with a designated carer of specialist obstetrician—public have a midwife—public as a collaborative carer, while three-quarters (75%) of models with a midwife—public as a designated carer have a specialist obstetrician—public as a collaborative carer. In models with a designated carer of shared care, most (90%) have a midwife—public as a collaborative carer, nearly half (48%) have a GP obstetrician as a collaborative carer, and 47% have a specialist obstetrician—public as a collaborative carer.

Nearly all (97%) models of care have at least one collaborative carer, in addition to the lead or designated carer. Half (50%) of all models of care have 1 collaborative carer, and this is higher in models classified as private obstetrician (specialist) care (84%), private midwifery care (83%), and GP obstetrician care (85%). Just over one-quarter of all models (28%) have 2 collaborative carers and this is higher in models classified as public hospital high risk maternity care (43%).

Nationally, a midwife—public is the most common type of designated carer (45% of models), and this is higher in models of care in Tasmania (65%), New South Wales (55%) and the Australian Capital Territory (50%). Victoria has a higher proportion of models of care with a specialist obstetrician—private as the designated carer (20%, compared to 12%, overall). The data visualisation below shows maternity models of care by type of designated carer for each state and territory.

Proportion of models of care, by designated carer, Australia, 2021.

The data visualisation shows the proportion of maternity models of care by each type of designated carer in Australia and for each state and territory. Around 45% of all models of care have a midwife—public as the designated (i.e. lead) carer. This is followed by a shared care arrangement (15%), a specialist obstetrician—public (14%), and a specialist obstetrician—private (12%). A midwife—public is the most common designated carer across all states and territories.