Auburn Hospital improves access to pregnancy care

The Auburn Hospital ‘Baby Steps’ project team, including Innovation & Redesign project lead Julianne Harvey (front left) and clinical midwifery consultant Helen Mou (front right).

Pregnant women now have quicker access to high quality care at Auburn Hospital thanks to a comprehensive redesign of the outpatient antenatal service.

NSW Health recommends that pregnant women have their first check-up with a midwife before 14 weeks gestation, but women at Auburn Hospital were not presenting until around 20 weeks due to an array of factors including a lack of understanding and appointment availability.

In partnership with consumers and staff, the ‘Baby Steps’ redesign project team looked at the entire service and identified short-term and long-term changes in order to help women access care sooner, which has already seen the average first appointment time improve by four weeks.

Innovation & Redesign project lead Julianne Harvey said everyone involved ought to be congratulated for persisting with the project even though the biggest step – a new booking schedule – has been delayed by COVID-19.

“Staff say the changes so far have saved them a lot of time, which frees them up to care for patients rather than getting bogged down with issues like incomplete paperwork,” Julianne said.

“Local GPs who refer patients to the hospital also say the process has become more streamlined and they’ve found our new hotline very helpful.”

The project changes and results include:

  • Daily checks of the antenatal appointments by the birth unit clerk, freeing up more than 400 appointments in six months
  • A new triage system to give clear prioritisation to women who are overdue for a check-up
  • More low-risk women being assessed sooner by a midwife rather than waiting for an appointment with a doctor
  • Education for local GPs, which saw the referral paperwork completion improve from 40% up to 80% within three months, saving time ringing GPs to get necessary patient information
  • Proportion of women starting care within 14 weeks rising from 4% to 18%

The project team is now engaging in a multilingual education program with the local community to help women understand the importance of seeking pregnancy care early.

For more information about the project, call Auburn Hospital clinical midwifery consultant Helen Mou on 0447 302 513 or email