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Midwives say extra budget money won't fix problems

From Nine To Noon, 9:33 am on 18 May 2018

Midwives have criticised the $103 million boost they received in this year's government budget, saying the figure is misleading and will not deal with pay equity.

Photo: RNZ / John Lake

Half of the money is to go towards an 8.9 percent increase in fees for 1400 lead maternity carers.

College of Midwives deputy chief executive Alison Eddy said that boost would not be enough to stop midwives leaving the profession.

Of the $103m, about $27m would go towards paying for a growing population and increasing costs, she said.

"So it's more business as usual as opposed to a pay rise."

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Independent midwives were paid for each woman they cared for, rather than an hourly wage, resulting in some rural independent midwives receiving about $7.20 an hour, she said.

The budget increase would have a particularly limited impact for those midwives, she said.

"The current fee [per birth] is somewhere between $2100 and $2300, and this new funding ... would add about $200 to that overall fee."

The 8.9 percent had been calculated based on the increase midwives working in hospitals had received over the past 10 years, she said.

Earlier this month, hundreds of midwives marched to parliament to hand over a 13,000-signature petition and hundreds of letter to Health Minister David Clark, calling for for urgent action in the Budget.

They had wanted a new co-funded model for community midwives, which was developed with the College of Midwives and the Ministry of Health, to be fully funded in the Budget.

That had not happened, Ms Eddy said.

"Our mediation agreement with the ministry actually set out that the Budget bid for this year would acknowledge the government's pay equity principle ... the principles developed as a result of the care settlement - and we really feel that 8.9 percent doesn't quite make it."


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