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Mums-to-be caught by health workforce crisis

Katrina Shanks National Party MP

9 April 2008

Mums-to-be caught by health workforce crisis

"More than 4,250 mums-to-be are in limbo as a desperate shortage of midwives leaves them scrambling to find a Lead Maternity Carer (LMC)," says Wellington-based National MP Katrina Shanks.

"Official Information Act answers reveal that District Health Boards say their communities are at least 85 midwives (LMCs) short. The College of Midwives conservatively estimates that each midwife should carry a caseload of between 40 and 50 women."

"Labour has known about the shortage in midwives for years. It has made excuses and called for more reports but still refuses to show leadership in addressing this issue."

The workforce crisis has been the subject of 43 reports since Labour came to office.

"Mothers and babies have got good reason to be concerned when it comes to receiving maternity care. Things are likely to get a lot worse for expectant mums as Lead Maternity Carers become more and more scarce."

Katrina Shanks says there are insufficient New Zealand-trained students to replace midwives who are leaving the profession and New Zealand is becoming dependent upon overseas trained midwives.

And the situation as laid out in the papers may be far worse. A DHBNZ survey in the middle of last year pointed to a midwife shortage of around 200 across both hospitals and the community.

"That supply of midwives from overseas cannot be sustained."

Late last week the Whanganui DHB called a special meeting to discuss the serious midwife workforce shortage in their region.

"Fifteen out of the twenty one DHBs have stated that they have a shortage of midwives. They include the Bay of Plenty, Canterbury, Hutt Valley, Hawke's Bay, Lakes, MidCentral, Capital & Coast, and Auckland, Waitemata (West), MidCentral (Tararua), Whanganui, Taranaki, Northland, Counties-Manukau and Southland.

"Kiwi mums-to-be deserve better."


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