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Labour cannot ignore call to review maternity

Hon Tony Ryall
National Party Health Spokesman

20 March 2006

Labour cannot ignore call to review maternity services

Labour cannot continue ignoring calls for an independent audit of maternity services in New Zealand, says National’s Health spokesman, Tony Ryall.

He is commenting on reports of another baby dying after a series of mistakes partly blamed on midwife care. Last week, the Health and Disability Commissioner reported on another case in Gisborne.

Late last year, the Wellington Coroner recommended a review after the deaths of two babies. The cases added to the growing consensus that New Zealand’s maternity services could be improved.

And the Health and Disability Commissioner last month called for hospital birthing protocols to be strengthened following his investigation of a tragedy at North Shore Hospital.

"Health Minister Pete Hodgson needs to realise this problem is not going to go away. Every month there are more frightening incidents coming to light, and more professional groups calling for change. The Government must act,” says Mr Ryall.

"Women need to be reassured that it’s safe to have babies in this country.

"How many more babies will die before they realise the current system is flawed?

"We need a review to understand the nature of the problem and how to fix it. The Government's Perinatal Mortality Review Committee is only looking at improving information gathering, rather than acting on what's been happening.

"This should be a proper independent audit with full terms of reference, not an internal snow-job that fails to ask the tough questions or hold anyone to account.

"Maternity services need stronger links at the primary care level with midwives and GPs working more closely together. Hospital protocols also need improving.

“A review of maternity services will lay a solid platform for change. Such a review would identify options for stronger and more collaborative services,”says Mr Ryall.

ENDS

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