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Midwives seek rural maternity care compensation

Media release – September 29, 2006

Midwives seek compensation for rural maternity care

Midwives today asked the Ministry of Health to consider an income top up and travel and accommodation compensation where they are involved in rural births.

The New Zealand College of Midwives today made this point in their submission to the Ministry of Health on its review of the rural health service.

The ministry is reviewing their rural scale which they use to pay general practitioners for a rural health service. Currently midwives are not included in any rural packages.

The midwives asked the ministry that their role in the care in rural obstetric emergencies be taken into consideration.

``We would like the ministry to favourably consider the rural midwife role in providing what would normally be secondary care services, until transfer or retrieval can take place,’’ NZ College of Midwives chief executive Karen Guililland said today.

``We also have to keep in mind compensation to rural midwives for providing emergency cover for air or road ambulance transfer and recognition that this service is provided not just to women for whom the midwife is the lead maternity carer.

``We are aware of the fragile nature of the rural midwifery workforce and the obvious disparity between the level of funding between rural GPs and rural midwives.

``We hope the ministry’s request for our input into the process is a sign that the issues facing rural midwifery will at last be acknowledged and additional funding found to support the service.’’

Rural midwives work under difficult circumstances and there is also a real income disparity between rural midwives and urban based midwives.

Midwives were often viewed as being leaders in their communities, she said. This was leading to an increased burden of responsibility in that community. They are often the most accessible health professional in their community Midwives are currently paid at a fixed rate per birth.

Ms Guililland said 31 percent of 55,000 mothers who gave both in 2003 were from rural areas and 21 percent of rural mothers lived in more deprived neighbourhoods.

Some midwives were giving women petrol vouchers so that they could attend ante-natal clinic appointments (as otherwise women cannot afford to attend) as it was cheaper for the midwife to do this than travelling to see the woman in her home.

``Rural midwives bear significantly higher costs in terms of transport including vehicles and petrol, other practice supplies, provision of practical support to birthing women and provision of an office or clinic.

This affects the ability of the midwives to provide a service and maintain financial viability for themselves, their practices and families.’’


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