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Proposal To Change Maternity Contracts

3 September 2001

A proposed reshuffle of maternity funding will mean lead maternity care practitioners are paid more but all publicly funded specialist services will now only be available through public hospitals.

Maternity practitioners will get a 10.5 % overall price increase for the services they offer if the proposed changes are implemented.

The increases include: 29% increase for services following the birth 10.5% increase for an ultrasound scan 30 percent increase for a pregnancy care consultation 36% increase for travel costs incurred during postnatal rural home visits a new fee for 15 or more postnatal home midwifery visits

Maternity Manager Barbara Browne said the price increase would encourage maternity practitioners to keep working in the sector.

"With the extra funding New Zealand lead maternity carers (midwives, obstetricians and general practitioners) can be appropriately rewarded for the maternity services they provide."

The proposed changes mean that pregnant women will have access to obstetricians, paediatricians and anaesthetists for specialist services they require through public hospitals, in the same way other publicly funded specialist services are provided.

At the moment women with complications during pregnancy can be referred to a hospital to see a specialist. This is paid for by the Government. Other women may decide to see a private specialist and may be charged a co-payment.

"There is no need for women to pay extra money for these specialist services. Hospitals are already funded to provide specialist care where women need it," Ms Browne said.

Savings from this proposal would be used to fund the price increase for lead maternity carers. Around $3.7 million announced in the May Budget has also been set aside.

Another proposed change to the contract will see maternity practitioners prevented from charging women co-payments for lead maternity care.

"Maternity services in New Zealand are intended to be free and we want to ensure it stays that way for women."

Ms Brown said another proposed contract change would let women hold their own clinical notes.

"This will give women a greater say in the management of their care," Ms Browne said.

Ms Browne will be holding meetings with the New Zealand Medical Association and the New Zealand College of Midwives to discuss the price increase and other changes to the current maternity contract.

Ms Browne has offered to meet with other groups interested in making submissions on the proposed changes.

A formal 12-week consultation period begins this month. Implementation of the new changes is expected in March 2002.

ENDS


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