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Ministry of Health Consults with Maternity Sector

Ministry of Health Consults with Maternity Sector

3 July 2006

The Ministry of Health is consulting with the maternity sector on proposed changes to the way maternity services are currently being purchased and provided.

The Section 88 Maternity Notice is the contract through which the Government pays for primary maternity services. The Ministry reviewed part of the Section 88 Maternity Notice last year, which involved pricing adjustments that came into effect in December 2005.

Today marks the start of a 12-week consultation period on proposed changes to some of the service specifications and updating the Section 88 Maternity Notice in line with recent legislation changes such as the Health Practitioners Competency Assurance Act.

"Ensuring that pregnant women continue to get the best possible care is our priority,'' says Dr Pat Tuohy, the Ministry's Chief Advisor Child and Youth Health. "One proposed change gives women the choice to register with a Lead Maternity Carer (LMC) from the time a pregnancy is confirmed to four weeks after the birth. Women may also be able to receive care in their first trimester of pregnancy through their primary healthcare practice (PHO)."

"Pregnant women can be assured that New Zealand has a maternity system which is the envy of many countries and these proposals are set to strengthen that further."

The Ministry is consulting with the sector in the next 12 weeks and changes to the Notice will come into effect by July 2007.

To view the Section 88 Maternity Notice, the user Guide and further information on maternity please see the Ministry of Health's website -

Questions and Answers to the Proposed Section 88 Maternity Notice

1. How long has the Section 88 Maternity Notice been around for?

The Section 88 Maternity Notice was first implemented nationally in 1996. Relatively minor amendments were made in 1998. In 2002, the Notice replaced earlier arrangements regarding the ways primary maternity practitioners received payments for their services and introduced nationally consistent terms and conditions for primary maternity care in New Zealand. The notice covers midwives, obstetricians, general practitioners, radiologists, anaesthetists and paediatricians.

2. How many midwives are currently practising in New Zealand?

As of the end of June 2006, around 2560 midwives in New Zealand hold an active practising certificate.

3. How many GP obstetricians are currently practising in New Zealand?

Figures from HealthPac show that 111 GPs claimed for LMC attendance at birth over a twelve-month period to 30 April 2006. Of those, 57 had an obstetrician involved with the birth.

4. How many babies were delivered by midwives in New Zealand in 2005?

Of a total number of 50,299 births, about 34,444 births were claimed for by midwives last year.

5. Are there any price amendments in this proposal?

Some prices may have been adjusted as a result of changes to some service specifications.

6. What is the timeframe for consultation on the Notice?

The Ministry of Health will begin twelve weeks of consultation, beginning on 3 July 2006. The new Notice is expected to be implemented from 1 July 2007.


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