Matilda International Hospital is laying out the welcome mat for qualified midwives BEFORE HONG KONG'S first government hospital was established in 1859, babies were born at home. It was the wan po, the Chinese midwives, who helped expectant mothers during labour. They were mothers but had no formal training in midwifery. Although the birth rate has declined in Hong Kong, midwives play an important role in hospitals, including top-tier private healthcare institutions such as the Matilda International Hospital. This Monday, the Matilda International Hospital is laying out the welcome mat for midwives at an open day from noon to 6pm at its premises on Mount Kellett Road, The Peak. The deputy general manager of clinical operations, Wendy O'Brien, said the occasion would be an opportunity to introduce the hospital and the job opportunities for midwives. 'Midwives play a vital, multifaceted role, providing holistic care for women in normal childbirth and throughout pregnancy and the post-natal period. In addition, a midwife's role often includes pre-conception care and family planning advice,' Ms O'Brien said. As in many other private health-care institutions, doctors deliver babies at Matilda International Hospital, while midwives provide care during labour. Ms O'Brien said Matilda assigned a midwife to each mother-to-be during the ante- and post-natal period, and the ratio of midwifes to clients was determined according to individual need. In the past five years, the hospital had helped deliver 800 babies on average every year, she said. Potential midwifery candidates at Matilda should have professional qualifications and experience. All candidates must have good communication skills and speak English and Cantonese. Fluency in Putonghua is an advantage. Qualified midwives in Hong Kong have to work for at least 18 months in public hospitals run by the Hospital Authority. To become a midwife in the city, a candidate needs to be a registered nurse first and then undertake an 18-month diploma course. In some other countries, there is also the option of a three-year direct-entry midwifery programme to become a registered midwife. The Midwives Council of Hong Kong assesses the qualifications of overseas applicants. The candidates should have a certificate, diploma or degree in midwifery from an educational institution in their country and also be registered with the professional body of that country. Once their qualifications have been assessed, overseas candidates must sit an exam conducted by the midwives council to obtain registration and a practising certificate. The certificate is valid for three years. A total of 5,125 midwives applied for a practising certificate between January and September last year, council data shows. The Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin runs an 18-month midwifery training course with theoretical training and clinical practice. A midwifery school runs the programme, and the annual intake is about 30 trainees. Practitioners have to follow ethics that define professional behaviour towards expectant mothers, healthcare professionals and the community. Midwives are governed by a code of practice and the Midwives Registration Ordinance of 1997. Candidates who cannot attend the open day at Matilda may take an appointment to meet hospital administrators. Unmarried candidates who are selected are offered onsite accommodation. There is a free shuttle bus from Central every hour. Midwives can expect to work eight to 12 hours a day, with two days off a week. Matilda also offers flexible working arrangements such as part-time contracts. FROM THE CRADLE Matilda is looking for caring and qualified midwives committed to child-bearing women. Potential candidates for midwifery must have worked at least 18 months in a Hospital Authority health-care institution. In the past five years, Matilda has helped deliver about 800 babies annually. Candidates should speak English and Cantonese. Putonghua would help.