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King backs down but underfunding remains

Dr Paul Hutchison National Associate Health Spokesperson

31 July 2001

King backs down but underfunding remains

The Minister of Health has finally seen the light on maternity contracts by deciding to continue funding at present levels to groups of doctors and midwives that choose to work under bulk contracts, National's Associate Health spokesperson Dr Paul Hutchison said tonight.

"Annette King has vacillated with the breeze over maternity funding arrangements. As recently as March she was saying what a good job the Matpros group of doctors and midwives were doing, only to condemn their working arrangements a few months later.

At stake was a model where doctors and midwives were working collaboratively as a team.

In the 1999 'Review of Maternity Services in New Zealand' Mason Durie reported a key issue was that 'instead of the increasing separation between professional disciplines that has marked maternity services in recent years, many women want a return to willing co-operation between medical care and midwifery'.

"The turnaround by the Minister is a step toward cementing in better choice for women in collaboration between professionals. I have argued that bringing all providers up to an equitable funding arrangement is much fairer than cutting the funding to bulk contracts.

"However, funding for maternity has not changed substantially since 1996 and the Government must face the reality of midwives and doctors leaving the sector because of inadequate funding.

"Labour's website avows Labour will "provide a free primary maternity service" for all women. This is blatantly untrue as pregnant women all over the country have to pay for pregnancy ultrasounds.

"Surely giving our children the opportunity to achieve their potential by funding a quality maternity service is the least Labour could do," Paul Hutchison said.

Ends

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