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Neonatal intensive care: ‘full ++’ & ‘overfull’

Katrina Shanks
National Party MP

6 October 2008

Neonatal intensive care: ‘full ++’ & ‘overfull’

There’s a critical shortage of beds available for our most vulnerable newborns, says National Party MP Katrina Shanks.

“Over the weekend there were just two cots spare for neo-natal intensive care throughout the country. This is despite assurances the capacity issues were just a seasonal blip.”

In July Labour minister Steve Chadwick assured Parliament that it would be fixed by adding another bureaucrat, but two months later, mothers and their babies still have nowhere to go.

“Auckland hospital’s neonatal intensive care is ‘overfull’, Middlemore describes its situation as ‘Full++’, and Waikato is ‘very full’.

Mrs Shanks says the situation has the potential to put new mums and their babies at risk.

“We understand a mother about to give birth was moved from Auckland to Christchurch at 1am because there was nowhere in the North Island that could care for her.

“It is simply not good enough. New Zealand needs maternity services that mothers and their babies can rely on.”

Mrs Shanks says the current situation is exacerbated by severe shortages of midwives for expectant mothers.

“For example, as at 31st March this year the Counties Manukau DHB had 40 permanent midwifery vacancies, and Waitemata DHB had 21 vacancies at 31st April.

“These shortages result in mothers being unable to find a lead maternity carer for their baby.

“National has been raising these issues for some time and offering solutions such as 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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