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More Discussion On Maternity Changes

12 September 2001

THE Ministry of Health says it will be doing more work over the next four to six weeks to ensure any changes to maternity care arrangements are in the best interests of New Zealand women and their babies.

Ministry officials were due to start consulting with providers on changes to maternity payments this week.

Spokesman Dr David Lambie said it was now clear that some aspects of policy relating to specialists needed special consideration.

"Our objective in this exercise has always been to ensure that pregnant women can get the services they need, wherever they live, without having to pay. We also wanted to ensure that all those offering maternity care were paid appropriately for the services they provide.

"Those objectives remain. However some of the proposed changes raise larger policy issues, including the role of private specialists in the public sector and their right to charge. We want to get those issues sorted."

"Hence we will be working with all the appropriate groups over the next four to six weeks to look at how best to do this. I believe that a joint approach to what has often been a rather contentious issue in the past offers us the best way forward."

Dr Lambie said the co-operative approach had the blessing of Minister of Health Annette King and would involve the NZ Medical Association, the College of Midwives and relevant medical colleges.

Any changes to maternity payments will come into effect in the 2002/03 financial year.

ends


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