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Govt invests in strategic vision for maternity

Hon David Cunliffe
Minister of Health
Hon Steve Chadwick
Associate Minister of Health

9 October 2008 Media Statement

Govt invests in strategic vision for maternity services

Health Minister David Cunliffe and Associate Health Minister Steve Chadwick today welcomed the findings of the review into maternity services in Wellington.

“I’m pleased that we’re able to reassure Wellington women and their families about the quality and safety of maternity services,” David Cunliffe said.

“We would like to acknowledge the case that led to this Wellington review, and extend our sincere condolences to the family for their loss.”

In July the Ministers asked the Director-General of Health to commission a clinician-led review following the death of a baby during a delivery at Kenepuru Maternity Facility.

“The review is a useful and important tool, and has shown us where there is still more work to do. This includes workforce development, improved relationships and greater national leadership. The recommendations have fed into the strategic vision for maternity services, which we are releasing today for consultation.”

“While the review team praised the DHBs and the community LMCs for their efforts in developing effective working relationships, it also recommended that formal steps be taken to further strengthen these, including the possibility of establishing a midwifery liaison position,” Steve Chadwick said.

“We will be closely watching the DHB’s progress in implementing the local recommendations.

“David Cunliffe and I have prioritised solutions for the midwifery shortage. I am very pleased to announce today that the Labour-led government is investing an additional $1.75 million annually to support the midwifery workforce.”

These initiatives include:
• $1.5 million for ongoing post-graduate training to support retention of midwives
• financial support for overseas trained midwives to meet their registration requirements
• resources to promote midwifery as a career choice.

The government also expects there will be up to 80 new places for first year midwifery students from 2009.

This builds on previous initiatives including additional funding of $11.4 million annually for midwives from July 2007, and $4.7 million over two years for a one-year mentoring programme for new graduate midwives.

“Training more midwives in New Zealand and supporting our existing midwives with post-graduate training will make a real difference to strengthening the workforce, and building it for the future.

“Today we are also releasing the draft Maternity Action Plan for consultation. This has been developed with an expert sector group over the last year, and is a significant step forward for maternity.

“The Plan identifies what more can be done to further improve maternity services. It identifies action in the short, medium and long term in seven priority areas, and picks up on the national recommendations from the Wellington review, including workforce development, improving relationships and collaboration between professional groups, and developing joint standards across all maternity service providers.”


Background information

Why were maternity services in Wellington reviewed?
In July 2008, the Minister of Health, David Cunliffe and the Associate Minister of Health, Steve Chadwick, asked the Director-General of Health to commission a clinician-led review following the death of a baby during a delivery at Kenepuru Maternity Facility in June 2008. The review was to look at the quality, safety and management of maternity services in Wellington, and identify opportunities for improvement.

For more information visit

What is the Maternity Action Plan?
The Maternity Action Plan is a five year strategic vision for the development of maternity services.

Why develop a Maternity Action Plan?
It is timely to consider past achievements, current strategies and issues, and develop a plan for the future of maternity services. The sector is calling for national leadership and a strategic approach to maternity services, and a response to the significant increase in births as well as workforce pressures.

Significant steps have already been taken in recent years to improve data collection, survey consumer opinion, consider rural issues and better understand workforce shortages, however this work can be better planned and co-ordinated.

Who developed the Maternity Action Plan?
In October 2007 the Ministry of Health established a Maternity Services Strategic Advisory Group which included experts from a wide range of professionals and consumer organisations involved in the maternity sector. The Group was tasked with developing a vision for maternity services and preparing a draft action plan. The overall aim is to contribute to improved outcomes for mothers, babies and their families, reduce inequalities and increase public confidence in the safety and quality of maternity services.

What are the priority areas in the Plan?
The seven priority areas are: national co-ordination and integration of maternity services, a maternity-specific quality improvement framework, maternity information systems and data collection, reducing inequalities in access to services and outcomes, workforce development, and multidisciplinary co-operation.

When will the Plan be implemented?
The Plan outlines a range of proposed short, medium and longer term actions which will be implemented over the next five years.

How do I make a submission on the Plan?
For information on how to make a submission and a copy of the Plan visit the Ministry of Health’s website at Submissions close 31 December 2008. The Ministry will also run regional forums, hui and fono over November and December to discuss the draft Plan. The Ministry of Health expects a final Plan to be considered by the Government at the end of March 2009.

What are the new workforce initiatives?
assisting overseas-trained midwives to come to New Zealand to work. A financial support package will assist them to meet the Midwifery Council requirements, by refunding the cost of their registration application, their first Annual Practicing Certificate (APC) and contributing to the cost of the education modules they need to complete to achieve a full APC
• funding for postgraduate education for midwives, as evidence shows that investing in ongoing education helps support and retain health professionals. The Clinical Training Agency (CTA) currently funds postgraduate education for medical practitioners and registered nurses, and it is timely to extend it to midwives. The funding will be available to midwives employed to work in secondary/tertiary care settings and self-employed midwives working as LMCs in community settings
• the government expects there will be up to 80 new places for first year midwifery students from 2009. Some of these places are dependent upon relevant qualification approval processes. A DVD will also be developed to promote midwifery as a career.

What other midwifery workforce initiatives are already in place?
Funding for midwives increased by around $11.4 million annually from July 2007
• $2 million fund for rural midwifery
• A one-year mentoring pilot support programme for new graduate midwives (worth $4.7 million over two years)
• 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.


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