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Leadership Critical In Maternity Debate

Media Release

15 November 2005

Leadership Critical In Maternity Debate

New Zealand First’s health spokesperson Barbara Stewart is calling for immediate action by the Minister of Health to improve the provision of maternity services.

“The Wellington Coroner wants an urgent review and has the support of senior medical people. Reports that a midwife with five complaints against her is still insisting that she is capable of delivering babies reinforce their concern.

“The Chief Executive of the College of Midwives understandably feels that all midwives are receiving undeserved bad publicity because of the shortcomings of a few while the Health and Disability Commissioner has said that there are clearly “issues of concern in midwifery”.

“The Minister’s response so far has been to refer the Coroner’s reports to a new committee in order to establish whether the two cases were exceptions or indicated systemic problems, said Mrs Stewart.

“It is glaringly obvious that there are systemic problems and the consequences of ministerial buck passing in this instance are likely to be bad outcomes for more mothers and babies.

“As the Minister knows there are now very few GPs providing maternity care which means that expectant mothers are denied access to a huge amount of knowledge and expertise. Unless they can pay for specialist care, they have no choice but to rely on midwives. To further complicate matters there is also a looming shortage of midwives.

“By all means hold a review to sort out the finer points but in the meantime this is an excellent opportunity for the minister to demonstrate leadership. One way of doing this would be to negotiate the reintegration of GPs into maternity care so that all expectant mothers can have the benefit of choice and more comprehensive care.

“This will ensure that the most important person in this equation – the new born baby – is given the best possible start in life that we can provide,” said Mrs Stewart.


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