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Central Otago rural midwife crisis worsens

Media Release
Waitaki MP
Jacqui Dean
31 July 2019

Central Otago rural midwife crisis worsens


The Government must step up and help the Southern District Health Board as Central Otago's chronic midwife shortage worsens, Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean says.

“The board is struggling to fill staffing gaps, with a shortage of relief midwifes affecting Charlotte Jean Maternity, in Alexandra, midwives in Wanaka and the Lakes District Hospital Maternity Unit, in Queenstown.

“I understand board staff are currently working day to day to ensure rosters are filled and that they are really struggling to find staff across the region.

“There’s even a possibility that locum midwives, from either Auckland or Christchurch, may have to be brought in to bridge the rostering gaps and that it’s becoming very difficult for the Southern DHB to manage.

“I commend the board for responding to this growing problem in Central Otago, but question how long it can sustain managing maternity services in this way.

“Surely it’s time for the Government to step up and do something here - flying midwives in from around the country, at goodness knows what cost, is not good use of resources and cannot be sustained by the board.

“Let’s also be clear here, this crisis is not a reflection on Central Otago’s maternity hospitals, or midwives - they are simply the victims of a midwife staffing shortage that this Government has chosen to ignore.

“In fact the NZ College of Midwives has been working with the Ministry of Health for more than two years around the co-design of a new, more sustainable funding model to replace the Section 88 system and develop a framework which better supports community midwives – but I understand that’s still 12 months away from settlement.

“The National Government was close to finalising this agreement, but it was thrown out by the Labour Government and now two years later we’re in this crisis situation.”

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