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Shanks dramatises midwife figures

9 April 2008

Shanks dramatises midwife figures

Katrina Shanks is attempting to panic parents-to-be with her use of midwife figures, Associate Health Minister Steve Chadwick said.

Steve Chadwick was responding to Ms Shanks’ claims of a midwifery workforce crisis.

“Ms Shanks is unnecessarily generating anxiety amongst expectant parents – this is reckless and alarmist.

“While we are facing challenges within the midwife workforce, no DHBs have reported being unable to meet demand. As a former midwife and health manager, I am satisfied that we understand the complexity of the issues, we are taking action and looking at long-term solutions.

“We know that this workforce is fluid in nature, because many midwives choose part-time work which can lead to short term pressures in different areas at different times.
“The government is implementing long-term, national solutions, while DHBs work to address local pressures – Counties Manukau DHB’s use of GPs is a good example of this.
“Our workforce includes a significant proportion of overseas trained midwives – in part because our Lead Maternity Carer (LMC) model is world-leading – however this is only one piece of the puzzle in addressing the shortage. We have a range of initiatives to address the issue over the long term.”
The Labour-led government initiatives include:

- the establishment of the Maternity Services Strategic Advisory Group, which will report back to the Minister in about six months with a strategic plan for maternity services;
- funding for midwives increased by around $11.4 million annually from July 2007;

- the Ministry of Health has introduced a one-year mentoring pilot support programme for new graduate midwives (worth $4.7 million over two years) – early indications are that this is helping to retain new graduates
- the Ministry funds the New Zealand College of Midwives to run a rural locum register – putting available midwives in touch with regions that need them
- the Tertiary Education Commission is undertaking a review of midwifery training needs, and
- the Minister has asked the Ministry to report to her on funding for ongoing professional development, similar to what doctors already receive.


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