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Crucial care mustn't be sacrificed to bottom line

4 December 2007

Crucial care mustn't be sacrificed to bottom line

The Green Party says the policy of pushing mothers and babies out of hospital within hours of giving birth must stop.

"The tragic death of a newborn baby in Wellington last Friday is an indictment on our health system and the now common practice of sending mothers home within just a few hours of giving birth," Green Party Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.

"The tendency to try to push women out of hospital appears to be based on funding and staffing shortages rather than the needs of the mother. It is a tragedy our approach to mothers and newborns has been reduced to such mercenary considerations," Green Party Children's Issues Spokesperson Sue Bradford says.

"While no one yet knows the cause of this sad death, or whether the outcome would have been any different had the mother and child remained in hospital, I believe these events are a wake up call in regards to how we treat mothers and newborns in this country.

"For many years, New Zealand women had a statutory right to remain in hospital with their baby after giving birth. This was a health and social measure designed to give mother and child time to recover from the birth, to bond, establish breast feeding and to give the mother a rest from whatever awaited her at home," Ms Bradford says.

"Women were not required to stay in hospital and many didn't, but it provided a safety net and a good start in life for all babies, even if mothers simply remained in hospital for a few days of much needed rest, recovery and bonding with their baby.

"It is high time the Government revisited its approach to post natal care. It is not enough for the Minister to examine the reasons for the current midwife shortage - he also needs to take urgent action on the whole question of attitudes to the care of mothers who have just given birth, and their babies," Ms Kedgley says.

"'With record budget surpluses and a horrific record on child violence and neglect, it is time we put the needs of mothers and babies higher up the priority queue for health resources," Ms Bradford says.

ENDS

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