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Midwives supports Barbara Stewarts call

12 Sept 2006

The New Zealand College of Midwives supports Barbara Stewarts call for more support for rural maternity services but believes the “loss of GPs and Obstetricians” is not the primary factor impacting on services, particularly when it comes to using Queenstown as an example.

College CEO, Karen Guilliland says the reduction in the number of women using primary maternity services in Queenstown and other resort towns has more to do with changing demographics and the cost of working in those towns for a midwifery workforce underpaid and under recognised.

“There are midwives employed at the Queenstown hospital who provide a maternity service for Queenstown women. However, many women who cannot afford to go to Dunedin for their births are choosing to utilise the independent Lead Maternity Care (LMC) Midwifery services in nearby Wanaka,” she says.

Figures (provisional) show that five to six years ago, around 20 women had their babies in Wanaka. Now that figure has risen to more than 90.

“It is not insignificant that Ms Stewart’s press release did not acknowledge the work that rural midwives do now. Midwives are the rural maternity service for most of rural New Zealand and yet they remain invisible,” says Karen Guilliland.

Wanaka midwife, Emma Bilous, believes the key to improving rural maternity services for New Zealand women lies in providing the same sort of support to rural-based midwives as has been put in place for rural doctors.

“It’s about improving service provision and supporting the midwives and other providers who are there now,” says Emma. “No-one would argue that there are recruitment issues in some parts of New Zealand but some of us are here for the long haul and would like the same support as the doctors in the rural areas.”


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