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Maternity workforce shortages must be tackled

All Health Reporters/Chief Executives/Press Officers
FROM: Dr Mark Peterson, NZMA maternity spokesperson
DATE: 29 November, 2007

Maternity workforce shortages must be tackled

Maternity workforce shortages must be tackled urgently, says the New Zealand Medical Association.

“We are pleased that Capital and Coast DHB has withdrawn its proposal to give $100 supermarket vouchers to women who leave hospital within six hours of giving birth,” said NZMA maternity spokesperson Dr Mark Peterson.

“The proposal smacked of desperation in the face of midwife shortages, and was only ever going to be a ‘band-aid’ approach to the problem. It may have also had the unintended consequence of providing an inappropriate incentive for some women to leave hospital earlier than they should have.”

Clinical factors, not monetary rewards, should be the only deciding issue in when a woman should leave hospital after giving birth, he said.

“Now it’s time for some serious action to help solve workforce shortages. The NZMA has been calling on the Government for many years to take action as problems with the health workforce are reaching crisis point in many areas. Not enough people are being trained, and many are going to work overseas where pay and conditions are often superior.

“The Government must not sit back and let the DHBs or market forces solve this problem. For the sake of the health of New Zealanders, long-term solutions must be found.”

It should also be remembered that government policies for nearly 20 years have contributed to most GPs exiting maternity care, Dr Peterson said.

The NZMA is advocating for primary maternity services to be contracted to Primary Health Organisations (PHOs), along with the rest of primary health care. This would enable the General Practice team to become involved again in maternity care, providing some of the antenatal and postnatal care, and giving mothers continuity of care with their GP and practice nurse, Dr Peterson concluded.


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