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Labour ignored repeated warnings on maternity

Tony Ryall MP
National Party Health Spokesman

2 July 2008

Labour ignored repeated warnings on maternity crisis

“Labour has ignored repeated warnings about the crisis in maternity services, not just in Wellington, but also around the country,” says National Party Health spokesman Tony Ryall.

“Yet another review of Wellington maternity services comes too little too late, especially since the issues are widespread. How many more tragedies will happen before the Government realises action is needed?”

National has previously released papers received under the OIA showing Wellington is suffering a severe midwifery shortage, with women being sent home early from hospital. There's overcrowding at the maternity unit. The tragic death of a baby after the child's mother was discharged five hours after birth. Mothers have been offered $100 supermarket vouchers to leave the hospital early. And the list goes on.

Whanganui District Health Board identified ‘a looming shortage’ of midwives and obstetric and gynaecology specialists ‘may have an impact on the provision of a safe maternity service’. Whanganui said ‘Other district health boards in the central region are experiencing and reporting similar shortages’.

"There are real problems all over the country.

“Labour has ordered 43 reports into the health workforce crisis since it came to office. It ignored all the warnings. The risk of mistakes has increased over that time,” says Mr Ryall.

“The establishment of a new panel to look at maternity issues will come as cold comfort for Kiwi mums-to-be who are facing uncertainty about the care they will receive.”

National has been raising these issues for some time. Its health discussion document includes solutions like student loan write-offs for health professionals in hard-to-staff areas and specialties, better integration between midwives, GPs and obstetricians, and the development of clinical networks.


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