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Maternity Services need action now

Maternity Services need action now

The New Zealand Medical Association is urging the Government to take serious action to improve maternity services, as the latest Ministry of Health proposals do not provide necessary solutions.

The NZMA has three key concerns, but these are not addressed in the latest proposed changes to the Section 88 Notice (the contract which maternity providers have with the Ministry). They are:

1. Bringing General Practice closer to the provision of maternity care.

"GPs have a relationship with families right from birth through to old age," says NZMA Deputy Chair Dr Don Simmers. "GPs need to continue to be involved during pregnancy, particularly during the first trimester, and women need to have better access to medical care when they need it. However, GPs have told the NZMA that proposed changes to make this happen won’t work."

2. Issues at the interface between primary and secondary services need to be resolved.

Responsibilities need to be clarified around referral and handover between Lead Maternity Carers and hospital specialist services, Dr Simmers says. The failure to have clear accountabilities has resulted in some serious difficulties.

3. Addressing problems of rural and provincial maternity services.

Maternity services for rural women are at crisis point and urgent action is needed, including improving women’s access to medical care, and solving workforce shortages.

“We have told the Ministry of Health that the proposed S88 Notice is not going to improve the provision of primary care maternity services, indeed, it may make an already fragile and difficult situation worse. This is because there seems to be a complete lack of effective planning and coordination on maternity issues," Dr Simmers says.

“It’s time the Ministry of Health sat down with the professional organisations and DHBs and developed a maternity service that is effective and sustainable.

“The women and babies of New Zealand deserve better.”


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