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Deteriorating Maternity Care Shameful

27 January 2006

Deteriorating Maternity Care Shameful

Standards of maternity care in New Zealand are clearly deteriorating and procrastination by the Minister of Health will not improve matters, says New Zealand First’s health spokesperson Barbara Stewart.

“Advice to the Minister that an increasing number of mothers are suffering from potentially fatal postnatal infections should be enough to prompt more decisive action than an undertaking to improve the gathering of statistics.

“The Perinatal and Maternal Mortality Review Committee’s conclusion that performing a national audit at this time would be extremely difficult, as there are significant gaps in the completeness of clinical data currently available is not binding upon the Minister, said Mrs Stewart.

“He is free to take more meaningful action if he chooses and now is the time to do just that. Undertaking to investigate ways to improve the gathering of more complete statistics is a very soft option. It also defers any decisive action years into the future.

“If the Minister is in any doubt about the impact of the declining standards on individual families I will be happy to introduce him to a Wellington mother who gave birth on 8 November last year. After a caesarean section both she and her baby suffered from hospital acquired infections.

“To date the baby has been readmitted to hospital 12 times and the mother five times and their problems have not yet been resolved.

“There is definitely room for improvement in maternity services and the sooner the better,” said Mrs Stewart.


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