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Action Overdue On Maternity Services

Media Release

4 December 2007

Action Overdue On Maternity Services

The new Minister of Health has an outstanding opportunity to demonstrate his abilities by acting decisively to resolve the problems within our maternity services says New Zealand First health spokesperson Barbara Stewart.

“Rather than the usual line of blaming district health board management and then uttering soothing platitudes about how the Government is imminently expecting yet another report which will shed light on the matter, the Minister should be looking for solutions to a problem which is not going to go away.

“We are currently short of around 200 midwives and the likelihood that we can fill that number of vacancies is extremely remote.

“Under those circumstances the Minister should be looking at alternatives such as talking to the country’s GPs to find out how many of them would be willing to resume providing maternity services in order to alleviate the ongoing midwife shortage.

“Another alternative would be to follow the New Zealand Medical Association’s suggestion that primary maternity services be contracted to PHOs so that GPs can become involved again and provide mothers with continuity of care with their GP and practice nurse.

“The one thing the Minister cannot do is put his head in the sand and hope that this issue is going to go away. That approach did not work for the last two health ministers and it won’t work for him,” said Mrs Stewart.


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