Pregnant women to get free assessments

Wednesday, 23 August 2017, 10:53:50 PM. AUSTRALIAN women will soon receive free mental health assessments during and after pregnancy under new federal government measures.

From November, pregnant women will have access to Medicare-funded assessments during their pregnancy and within two months of giving birth, ABC News reports.

The new program, developed in response to recommendations made by a taskforce set up to examine the Medicare Benefits Schedule, was welcomed by Australian Medical Association president Michael Gannon.

“Healthy mothers who are functioning well are more likely to take good care of their babies,” he said.

“Not a year goes by where we don’t learn more and more about the importance of the first 1000 days of a child’s life. They are critical in setting up a human being for good health for the rest of their life.”

He added: “To identify women who might already be depressed, but at the very least identify that group of women who are at increased risk of postnatal depression, and invest wherever possible in preventing it happening.”

The program will hugely benefit women in rural areas, where finding follow-up treatment after surgery can often be difficult.

Under the current system, only specialists are allowed to bill Medicare for post-surgery consultations. But under the new system, GPs will be able to as well.

The Government said it was adopting other recommendations made by the taskforce, but has not revealed the details.

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