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Maternity care and role of GPs discussed

10 February 2006

Maternity care and role of GPs discussed at meeting

The Ministry of Health has met with groups involved in the provision of maternity care and says women can continue to have confidence in the maternity care system.

The meeting was held to have initial discussions as part of the review of the Section 88 Maternity Services Notice.

The review is being conducted in two stages. The first part of the review was completed last year when the Ministry consulted on the proposal to vary the price schedule in the Notice. Price increases took effect in December 2005.

Currently the second part of the review is underway and it is looking at the service specifications and quality requirements under the Notice.

As part of the review process, a meeting was held yesterday between the Ministry and the New Zealand Medical Association, New Zealand College of Midwives, the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Maternity Services Consumer Council.

The Ministry's chief advisor of child and youth health, Dr Pat Tuohy, says the meeting focused on the role of the GP within the maternity workforce and how best to ensure that women received a seamless service from the time of detection of pregnancy through to the post natal period.

"All of the participants expressed support for the current Lead Maternity Care system, and emphasized the ongoing role of midwives in providing the bulk of maternity care and delivery services," Dr Tuohy says.

"There was general consensus that the current role of GPs in the early stage of pregnancy needs to be clear so that women know what to expect from their GP during early pregnancy care. There is also a need for general practice to be linked better into antenatal and post natal care so that women can take advantage of the full range of services now available in the primary care setting."

GPs currently provide about 70% of care in the first trimester and there was no suggestion that this would decrease under the revised Section 88 Notice.

Clearer expectations of the GP role were seen by all to be useful and all groups acknowledged that it was important to put in place mechanisms that will help to improve communications among all health care practitioners involved in maternity care.

The meeting concluded with the expectation from all that a number of further discussions would take place about improving communication and coordination at the grass roots level, Dr Tuohy says.

A number of items such as access agreements, referral guidelines, funding for early pregnancy care and workforce were raised at the meeting, but it was agreed that these would begin to be addressed by the Ministry and maternity leaders within the next few weeks.

"The Ministry of Health has recognised that more frequent meetings with senior leaders in maternity care would be of value in progressing some of these other issues," Dr Tuohy says.

The discussions yesterday have been held prior to the development and issuing for public consultation of a formal proposal to vary service specifications under the Section 88 Maternity Notice.

"It is anticipated that a proposal will be sent to the parties and to other interested groups around March 2006," Dr Tuohy says.


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