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Maternity Services Back In Spotlight

Media Release

8 October 2008

Maternity Services Back In Spotlight

News that a Christchurch doctor has written a book highly critical of the present maternity system comes as no real surprise says New Zealand First’s health spokesperson Barbara Stewart.

“Questions are regularly raised about whether our maternity services are as good as they could be or even as safe as they should be since the reforms in 1990.

“What is equally unsurprising is that representatives of the Ministry of Health and the New Zealand College of Midwives have immediately tried to discredit the book, in one case without even reading it.

“Since 1990 the choices available to pregnant women have been reduced by GPs opting out of the Section 88 contract for maternity services in order to charge their usual consultation fees because a flat fee of $100 for consultations in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy is not economically viable, said Mrs Stewart.

“Pregnant patients who want to stay with their own doctors may be faced with having to pay the full fee of around $60 per consultation.

“Our first priority should be to provide expectant mothers and new born babies with the best care possible – debates about the cost and who should deliver the care have detracted from this to the ultimate disadvantage of both mothers and babies.

“Unfortunately successive Ministers of Health have put this in the too-hard basket – perhaps a message from the front lines will finally prompt some overdue changes to the system,” said Mrs Stewart.


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