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Launch 2007 Maternity Service Satisfaction Report

9 May, 2008
Launch of the report on the 2007 Maternity Services Consumer Satisfaction Survey

Ko Te Mata taku maunga

Ko Tukituki taku awa.

Ko Tau iwi

Ko Ngāti Pākehā ahau

Taku ingoa, ko Steve Chadwick

Rau rangatira mā, tēnei te mihi ki a koutou i runga i te kaupapa o te rā.

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā rā tātou katoa.

Kia ora and welcome.

I would like to welcome you all here today to celebrate some very good news about the valuable maternity services provided to women, babies and families in New Zealand. I am referring to the highly encouraging results of the 2007 Maternity Services Consumer Satisfaction Survey. It gives me great pleasure to be launching this report, and it’s wonderful to be releasing these finding in the same week in which we celebrated International Midwives Day.

The Government has invested substantially in health services for all New Zealanders. We are committed to ensuring that women receive the best care, and especially when they become mothers. Today, I will share with you results that show that New Zealand has world class maternity services.

Let’s celebrate

The survey canvassed nearly 3000 women who gave birth in March or April last year. A similar survey was undertaken in 2002. The results are overwhelmingly positive and show some gains since the last survey. Every area of New Zealand’s maternity services, from Lead Maternity Carers, to antenatal care, to hospital stay, and postnatal care, were all graded with satisfaction levels of 90 percent or higher. All of you working in this area can feel very proud.

Expectant mothers are better informed about how they fit within the many services and options available to them. Even more importantly, they expressed greater awareness than ever before of the need for antenatal tests, immunisations, and other important information about their health and the wellbeing of their unborn child.

The vast majority of women surveyed gave birth where they wanted to and received post-natal care where they wanted to – this is highly empowering.

The focus of our maternity providers is the woman and baby – and providing them with continuity of care. These results demonstrate that our maternity services are continuing to improve. And they demonstrate that the focus is where it should be – providing women with the services they need in the way that they desire.

Some challenges

The survey also raises some challenges for both the sector and the government to look at. Eighteen percent of women reported not being satisfied with their pain relief - what issues does this raise for us about communication and training? And the survey confirmed that some women are not feeling ready to leave hospital when they do – do we need clearer policies on length of stay or on discharge discussions?

Some of the issues raised (like the condition of a facility) are the responsibility of the service providers. These “local” issues were few, and it is highly unlikely they are systemic problems given the broad levels of overall satisfaction. We will be looking at a regional or national level at other concerns, like the low rate of attendance at antenatal classes among Maori and Pacific women.

The survey provides important feedback to us all. Just as positive feedback allows us to continue doing well the things we are doing very well, negative feedback lets us know what we need to change. Service providers are listening to these responses – the responses help us all to improve maternity services.

The Workforce

So, how does this fit with all the current talk about the workforce? First, I would like to congratulate the midwives, obstetricians, GPs and allied staff who – while under pressure – clearly provide a high level of service, with compassion and care.

I’d also like to acknowledge the DHBs who provide health professionals with many of the resources they need to provide this level of care. And to the Colleges and professional organisations that provide training, feedback and advice for their members and who uphold the values of woman-centred care – thank you.

Clearly there are concerns about workforce. The Survey confirmed that some women had difficulty finding a suitable LMC. And we are well aware of these issues. That is why the government (and other agencies) has taken steps over the last year, to address some of the issues. These steps range from increasing payments for LMCs, under the Section 88 notice, to funding training for midwives, and to providing support for rural midwives.

We are aware that there have been calls from the sector for maternity related issues to be addressed in a more holistic way. You may be aware that the Maternity Services Strategic Advisory Group has been established and tasked with developing a strategic vision for New Zealand’s maternity services. The Group – whose member’s represent groups from across the sector – will be coming up with a plan of plan for addressing the maternity sector’s key issues and will report back to me in about four months.

The Big Picture

Women, midwives and other maternity providers highly value our model of care and the seamless maternity services provided in New Zealand. The survey demonstrates that our services are working well for the vast majority of women. I think we can clearly credit and congratulate the people and organisations that provide and support maternity services for the care and effort they are putting into those services.

I would also like to thank all of the women who contributed to the survey. Their contributions provided important positive and constructive feedback on the quality of maternity services. The government and everyone working in maternity services are extremely grateful to you for taking the time to comment – especially at such a busy and momentous time in your lives.

As a nation our maternity services demonstrate just how much we value our women and children. After all, the health, well-being and equality of women and children are the foundation of a just and functional society.

The results of this survey show that we are moving in the right direction. They show that we are empowering women to make choices at a time when they can be, and feel, the most vulnerable. We have set up and are continuing to develop maternity services that are flexible and responsive to the needs and the dignity of women – and that is something we all should celebrate.

So to all of you, thank you for your dedication and hard work – your commitment and care is so important to New Zealand women and their families. Thank you.


ENDS

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