Shortage of nurses | Midwives want to do more

(Quebec) While the shortage of nurses weakens obstetric services in several regions, the Ordre des midwives du Québec is asking the Legault government to broaden, without delay, the scope of practice of midwives so that they can lend a hand to the network. Québec solidaire made it an official proposal.

Fanny Levesque

Fanny Levesque

The political party proposes to modernize the Midwifery Act to extend their practice to women’s health in general and not only to acts related to pregnancy and childbirth. We are also asking to include the power of prescription and to repeal the postnatal follow-up period to extend it.

“The government must recognize the importance that midwives can play in the crisis we are currently experiencing in our obstetrics services,” said the member for Rouyn-Noranda – Témiscamingue, Émilise Lessard-Therrien. An approach supported by the Order of Midwives of Quebec (OSFQ).

According to the member, offering more responsibilities to midwives would give “a breath of fresh air” to the teams in place who are overwhelmed.

Several establishments have dealt with breaks in obstetrics services during the summer, such as Chibougamau and Matane. The interruption of services at the Ville-Marie hospital in Témiscamingue, in effect since April, was extended on Friday until November 19. “In my region, it is catastrophic”, deplores Mme Lessard-Therrien.

Screening and treatment of sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs), contraception and breastfeeding follow-ups are all tasks that midwives could perform to unclog the network.

The MP also calls for midwives to be able to ensure the postnatal health of the mother and her child up to the age of 5, including vaccination. The exercise of the profession, according to the law, is limited for the moment to the follow-up of pregnancy, the childbirth and the follow-up during the first six weeks of the postnatal period only.

“They must be able to take more charge of aspects relating to women’s health and not just childbirth”, illustrates Mme Lessard-Therrien.

The OSFQ agrees: “We have professionals in place who are extremely competent, but who do not have the authorization to apply [leurs] knowledge to the general population. […] Doing a Pap test on a woman who is pregnant or not pregnant, the technique is the same ”, maintains the president, Julie Pelletier.

A petition in favor of expanding the scope of practice of midwives, sponsored by Émilise Lessard-Therrien, has been published on the website of the National Assembly.

Attract candidates

However, the profession of midwifery is not immune to the shortage of manpower. Forty agreements with health establishments would not be fully fulfilled at present, according to the OSFQ.

Widening the scope of practice of midwives “is also a way of attracting new candidates and retaining them”, assures Pelletier. « [Des sages-femmes] leave the profession because they cannot do anything else, ”she argues.

It would also be less difficult to attract them to the regions, believes Lessard-Therrien. “Since they can’t do a lot of things, they need a lot of volume. This is why they are more concentrated in large centers, ”said the member for Québec solidaire.

The OSFQ brings together 278 midwives, of which only 180 are currently active in Quebec.


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