Growing fears about suspending child and maternal health check-ups

A former midwife and maternal health nurse with 50 years’ experience has warned of the danger of most child and maternal health checks being suspended in Victoria.

Mary Parks has told 3AW serious health issues are going to go undetected with the important checks not occurring — a decision she says she cannot understand.

Most babies are not receiving check-ups once they pass eight weeks of age. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Ms Parks told 3AW Mornings host Neil Mitchell that the checks being carried out until children are at least 3.5 years old was “so important”.

She said the checks looked out for signs of conditions, including jaundice in children and mastitis and post-natal depression in mothers, which occurred beyond the first eight weeks after birth.

“These mums are still vulnerable,” Ms Parks said.

“I know our health minister said they would still look after the vulnerable, well I believe every new baby and mother and father is vulnerable in the early days.”

Ms Parks said the appointments also looked out for signs of domestic violence.

“That’s another thing we’re going to miss out on,” she said.

Ms Parks said the decision seemed nonsensical.

“Under this Code Brown, why would you cut back a service that is trying to prevent hospitalisation?”

Dozens of Victorian parents have taken to social media to speak out against the decision.

“I haven’t been able to get my son in his six-month (check-up) despite having concerns and him being premature,” one mother shared on Facebook.

“This isn’t ok, kids will fall through the cracks.”

Another mother shared on Facebook that the repercussions of the decisions “will be felt for years to come”.

“How are we still cancelling maternal and child health nurse visits but I can go to Kmart, a gym, a shoe shop, doctor or anything else?”

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 21: A COVID-19 testing clinic sign at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital on January 21, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. NSW has recorded 46 deaths from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, marking the deadliest day in the state since the start of the pandemic. NSW also recorded 25,168 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hour reporting period. (Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images)

Your COVID-19 questions answered

Parents with concerns about their children’s health, or their own health, are urged to contact their maternal health service or their GP.