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Nat’s maternity announcement vague, underwhelming

19 May 2009 Media Statement

National’s maternity announcement vague and underwhelming

Today’s maternity announcement fails to tell women how they will actually improve maternity services in New Zealand, Labour Deputy Leader Annette King says.

“Additional funding for maternity services will always be welcomed, but today’s announcement from Tony Ryall has clearly been rushed as it provides little or no detail on how longer birthing unit stays will be delivered.

“Labour would welcome increased services and longer birthing unit stays. But unfortunately Tony Ryall has provided no details on when longer stays will begin and where the additional staff and facilities to support this will come from.

“The biggest issue facing New Zealand maternity care is the ongoing shortage of midwives, yet today midwives barely rated a mention in an announcement on maternity services.

Mrs King said National also seemed to have forgotten about its promise to increase Well Child checks as part of an integrated health policy to benefit children.

“Before the election he promised more Well Child checks but today this didn’t even rate a mention. Nor did any increase in funding for Plunket to carry out the increase in Well Child checks that will be required from New Zealand’s higher birth rate.

Plunket is a highly valued organisation in New Zealand by families and during its time in Government Labour more than doubled its funding, from $18.8 million to $39.5 million last year.

“He also promised to help GPs wanting to retrain in obstetric care. But today has provided just over $250,000 per year for this - for all of the GPs in the country.

“Quite clearly Mr Ryall has made a token gesture towards GPs. I note the New Zealand Medical Association has already come out and said today’s announcement won’t provide better maternity services.

“Women and babies deserve better than token gestures on maternity that have been clearly rushed out to the public.

“Anyone who knows about maternity care will recognise today’s announcement as being little more than Tony Ryall putting on a show for the media,” Annette King said.

“Where is the detail about when women will be able to stay in birthing units longer? Where is the detail about how midwifery and obstetric nurse numbers will be increased? Where is increase in Well Child checks women were promised before the election?


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