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Deception Over Maternity Care

21 April 2002

The Ministry of Health has been deceptive in claiming that midwives, general practitioners and specialists offering maternity care are getting a pay increase in the revised maternity contract, National Associate Health Spokesperson Dr Paul Hutchison said today.

"The fact is that for many maternity providers there is an overall decrease in funding of 12 percent.

"Southlink Health, who are responsible for thousands of deliveries a year, believe this funding reduction by the Minister will put it out of maternity care.

"It is a huge indictment on Minister of Health Annette King that the Auditor General in his recent report on primary care singled out Southlink's contract as being an ideal example. Instead the Ministry has taken away the choice of non-standard contracts.

"Annette King appears to be captured by interest groups in being unwilling to implement major recommendations of the 1999 maternity report, which emphasised provider choice and team work. The Minister and the Ministry seem determined to destroy general practice obstetrics.

"Funding increases - the first since 1997 - should have been used to bring up the highest existing base line. The shine has worn off the small increase in funding there has been because there is no adjustment mechanism for CPI and this will eventually wear down midwives and obstetricians. "It is appalling that the Government and Ministry are still claiming a 'free maternity' system for all women in New Zealand when right around the country women are having to make co-payments for maternity ultrasound.

"Annette King and her Government raised taxes and said they would 'fix' the health system but in maternity care they are deceiving themselves, the providers and the mums," Dr Hutchison said.

Ends

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