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Labour in denial over midwife shortage

Katrina Shanks National Party MP

10 April 2008

Labour in denial over midwife shortage

"Mums-to-be can have little faith that Labour will do anything about the health workforce crisis when it is in blatant denial over the national shortage of midwives," says Wellington-based National MP Katrina Shanks.

"The Minister is absolutely wrong when she says that 'no DHBs have reported being unable to meet demand'."

Katrina Shanks is releasing papers from two of the 15 DHBs which are reporting a shortage of midwives.

"The Associate Minister should correct her public response. Just because it's election year she should not be attempting to mislead New Zealanders about the looming crisis in this important part of the health workforce."

Official Information Act papers from Capital and Coast DHB reveal they are short of 10 Lead Maternity Carers (LMCs) and expect a long-term shortage of at least nine midwives.

A letter from Whanganui District Health Board says 'a looming shortage' of midwives and obstetric and gynaecology specialists 'may have an impact on the provision of a safe maternity service'.

Whanganui says 'currently there are approximately 50 women who do not have a Lead Maternity Carer', and that 'the shortage of midwives appears to be at a regional and national level. Other district health boards in the central region are experiencing and reporting similar shortages'.

"Yesterday, I released figures which show that thousands of women will struggle to get a midwife because of a national shortage. Steve Chadwick should not so casually dismiss these concerns.

"Labour has ordered 43 reports into the health workforce crisis since it came to office. That is cold comfort for the thousands of Kiwi mums-to-be who are facing pregnancy, birth, and ante-natal care, uncertain about whether they can secure the wrap-around support a midwife can offer."

Attachment: Papers on midwife crisis from Whanganui and Capital & Coast DHB - 4 pages

  • OIA Whanganui
  • ENDS

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