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Midwifery Shortage For Taumarunui

Media information For immediate release

February 13, 2008

Midwifery Shortage For Taumarunui

Taumarunui is in dire need of at least one more midwife before pregnant women are sent elsewhere for their antenatal and birthing needs.

While Taumarunui has previously had two operating midwives until last week, Diane De Esteena has left the profession, and the town, having fallen pregnant herself.

The sole remaining independent midwife Jill Arundel has now been forced to take on the entire caseload.

"Our lead maternity carers (LMCs, or midwives) assist with about 100 births per year, which is just not doable for one person," said Taumarunui Hospital manager Tina Baker.

Ms Baker said she was very concerned for the welfare of pregnant women in the area, as if they do not find another midwife in the near future, women who approach Mrs Arundel should be prepared to be told to look outside of town for another midwife.

"These women may have to go to Te Kuiti, Tokoroa or Hamilton for care, as Jill simply can't take on everybody. It is just too much," said Ms Baker.

"Obviously this is not at all desirable. The situation is getting rather dire."

However, Ms Baker, along with other hospital management and Health Waikato staff are trying their best to rectify the situation.

"We have been advertising in all the major newspapers, on Trade Me, on all the midwifery websites, and are even offering six months free accommodation to the successful applicant, but to no avail thus far," she said.

Ms Baker will do an interview with National Radio tomorrow (THURSDAY) in hope of finding a new recruit, and Mrs De Esteena will return to help with the current caseload for a short period of time later this month.

"We are also getting a contract drawn up for Tokoroa midwife Kathy Young, who used to work here so Jill can take some time off, but that still leaves us with one LMC. Something needs to be done," said Ms Baker.

Taumarunui's situation is sadly not a unique one, with the Future Workforce Group having identified midwifery as one of the professions in critical shortage, along with rural general practitioners.

The Waikato DHB Nursing and Midwifery Workforce Strategy Group reinforces that the LMC model remains of central importance as it grapples with sustaining maternity services.

Between 154-174 New Zealand midwives leave the profession annually.


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