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Funding boost for rural midwives

4 December, 2006

Funding boost for rural midwives

The Labour-led government will invest $2 million per year from 2007 to support the rural midwifery workforce, Associate Minister of Health Damien O'Connor announced today.

The money will be allocated to rural midwives via the rural ranking scale – in much the same way as rural funding is allocated to rural GPs, Mr O'Connor said.

"Midwives are a vital part of the rural health workforce and this Government is committed to making sure that we can attract new midwives and retain the current midwifery workforce we already have.

"Under the new funding scheme, rural midwives will be supported as well as rural GPs to ensure rural communities' continued access to health services."

Mr O'Connor said that as well as the commitment of $2 million from 2007, a pilot scheme will also be trialed this financial year and next to support the services midwives provide to women in remote rural locations.

Professional development and continuing education relief and short-term locum funding will also be trialed, he said.

The latest initiatives add to recent announcements, including:
 Funding increase for midwives in December 2005,
 Announcement of a new $4 million programme to support midwives in their first year of practice.

Mr O'Connor said the Government is listening very carefully to concerns raised by midwives, and will continue to improve all health services delivered to rural New Zealand.

"In 2005, the Labour-led Government undertook to improve access to health services for those in rural areas. A number of initiatives have already been rolled out and this latest announcement is one in a series of improvements for the rural health sector."

These initiatives include:

- $80 million rural adjuster to DHBs to compensate for higher costs of delivering health to rural communities,
- $4.23 million to pay for a rural bonus for 461 rural GPs,
- $8.4 million in rural workforce retention funding,
- Short-term locums for nearly 200 rural GPs,
- The recruitment of 19 overseas GPs to New Zealand rural practices,
- $5 million to fund a surgical bus,
- The government is looking closely at the level of provision of midwife services in rural areas.
- Greater opportunities for other rural health practitioners, such as nurses,
- $2 million for 15 additional GPs targeted for placement in rural practices, adding to recent funding for 30 rural GP trainee placements.

ENDS

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