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Tragedy Highlights Dangers In Maternity Services

Tragedy Highlights Dangers In Maternity Services

The death of a newborn baby girl just hours after she and her mother were discharged early from Wellington Hospital is a terrible calamity - one which highlights the very real dangers that have arisen from the crisis currently faced by maternity services throughout the country, ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy said today.

"This tragedy follows CCDHB's failed attempt to bribe new mothers, with a $100 grocery voucher, into leaving Wellington Hospital just hours after giving birth - a move that I predicted would inevitably result in disaster," Mrs Roy said.

"As we have seen today misguided incentives, designed to address serious bed and midwife shortages, are a tragedy just waiting to happen. Five or six hours after birth is not adequate a time to determine infant distress or birth complications, and gives a paediatrician no time to thoroughly examine a baby - in this tragic case, a doctor was not seen before discharge.

"Maternity services throughout the country - especially in Wellington - are in crisis. While Government spending has steadily increased, politicians' meddling has resulted in a progressive decline in the options open to expectant parents - a decline that began when Helen Clark, as Health Minister, promoted midwives over doctors to lower the cost to Government of maternity services.

"What she achieved instead is an elimination of choice - virtually no GP in New Zealand delivers babies and, now, there is such a midwife shortage that many women struggle to find anyone to deliver their child.

"Pregnant women no longer have choices about their maternity care - including that of whether a midwife or doctor delivers their baby. Meanwhile, the Government - which caused this problem - won't address the workforce issues plaguing, not just maternity services but, the entire health system," Mrs Roy said.

ENDS

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