We were discussing this study at our playgroup today. Our group is pretty much 50/50 public/private birthing, at a variety of private and public hospitals.
One thing I noticed during our conversation was this: those of us within the group who were low risk, reasonably confident about birthing, and reasonably passionate about not having intervention of any sort unless absolutely necessary mostly chose the public system. Actually, all bar one mother who fit this criteria went public.
Those who were either deemed to be of high or higher risk, were birthing in their late 30s/early 40s, had had trouble conceiving or were terrified of birth and the pain associated with birth tended to choose the private system.
I guess the point is, individuals who feel they will need or want intervention tend to gravitate towards the system which is most likely to provide them with said intervention, private hospitals. The individuals who were pretty passionate about not having intervention gravitated towards the public system.
It makes sense that there is more intervention in the private health system. People choose private health FOR intervention, or the opportunity to access it is required. I would actually be more concerned if the study had found the opposite, that intervention was more common in the public system!!!
In regards to the lack of care continuity within the public system: with both of my births I was part of external clinic programs, at two different hospitals. I saw the same midwives the whole way through, for my first birth my own midwife was there for part of the birth and for the second my own midwife was there for the duration. I am in contact with one of my midwives from my first birth to this day (DD was born in March 09). If you research your public hospitals, there are many that offer excellent continuity of care, and it appears that more and more hospitals are offering these wonderful programs.
At the end of the day, we make our choices to shape the experience of birth that we want. I personally don't care if half my playgroup friends wanted intervention, nor do I care that the other half wanted opposite. Healthy babies and happy mums is all we should care about!