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Otago mothers deserve more choice, not less

Wednesday 13th Oct 1999

Ken Shirley

ACT health spokesman Ken Shirley says it would be a backward step if the Health Funding Authority denied choice in maternity care services to Otago mothers.

The Health Funding Authority may stop funding private maternity consultants as a cost cutting move.

But Mr Shirley, who visited medical institutions in Dunedin today, said parents deserved more choice.

"ACT New Zealand strongly supports consumer choice in maternity care and rejects the Health Funding Authority's preferred option which would restrict care to public hospitals," Mr Shirley said.

"Here in Otago specialists have combined with midwives in the private sector to provide a comprehensive maternity care service. Over 50% of Dunedin's deliveries are now supported by this service.

"Too often around the country we see polarisation and bitterness between obstetricians and midwives. The case of Albany Maternity and Gynaecology shows how these professionals can work together in the interests of the consumer.

"Importantly, the chief executive of Healthcare Otago has also supported consumer choice. Dunedin is showing how private and public health can work together for the best interests of the consumer. It would be wrong for the Health Funding Authority to change a formula that is working for consumers."

Mr Shirley held meetings with Healthcare Otago chief executive Bill Adam and Albany medical director Glenn Blanchette while in Dunedin today.

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