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Historic Win For Midwives

Historic Win For Midwives

For the first time in New Zealand history, community based midwives (Lead Maternity Carers - LMCs) will be designing their own funding model for the country’s midwifery-led maternity system.

The College of Midwives has withdrawn its court action following mediation because it now has legally binding certainty that addresses their long-standing concerns about pay equity and working conditions.

College Chief Executive Karen Guilliland says the mediation, which commenced in August 2016, has resulted in a significant number of historic firsts.

“The biggest,” says Guilliland, “is that for the first time in New Zealand history, midwives will themselves be designing pay structures and working conditions for community LMC midwives. We will be working with ministry officials on this re-design process. In the past, funding and conditions have been decided by a system that seldom included midwives or even considered what midwives do,” she says. “For the first time too, funding negotiations for midwives will be legally bound by a set of comprehensive pay equity principles recently agreed to by the government, and that makes us an important part of the global pay equity drive,” she says.

Mrs Guilliland says one of the key points and another first is that if the MOH fails to meet these agreements, the profession has grounds to return to court.

“The agreement by the government to our conditions is excellent news for today’s midwives as well as midwives still to enter the profession,” she says. “This futureproofs the midwifery-led maternity system which is also good news for mothers and babies.”

Other wins from the mediation include an “interim” pay increase of 6% (interim as it covers the period of the re-design process (to Aug 2018) ), and an additional $1 million to be targeted towards urgent areas of need - for example urgent urban locum relief and other urgent travel, where for example a woman has to transfer to a hospital several hours away and the midwife has had to fund and find her own way home.

“The pay increase, together with a 2.5% rise from last year and 2% in 2015, equates to about $220 per pregnant woman; that’s where the pregnancy and birth is uncomplicated. This is of course welcome but it is only a start towards addressing the existing pay equity gap of 30%,” says Karen Guilliland. “What will help address that further, is the new re-design of the funding system which will involve consulting all College members. The Government is supporting this by including the costs of that in the budget bid for 2018.”

She says the College of Midwives and the Ministry of Health have worked extremely hard to get to this stage. Future negotiations are now supported by a legally binding agreement. The College is confident this will ensure that midwives never again find themselves so unrecognised and undervalued.

“The College is confident this will provide midwives with the conditions and remuneration that fairly recognises their unique role in maternity care. We now have the opportunity to make sure midwives are respected and properly reimbursed for the 24 hours a day service they provide. It will future proof both the profession and the service for mothers and babies; services that make a positive difference to families, throughout NZ.”

Karen Guilliland is in Wellington today and will be attending the first regional consultation meeting with the College’s members from the Wellington region.


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