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Maternity services consumer survey released

Ministry releases maternity services consumer survey

A survey of almost 3000 women who gave birth last year shows a general satisfaction with maternity services, Ministry of Health national maternity manager Barbara Browne said today.

The Maternity Services Consumer Satisfaction Survey reviewed women's perceptions of maternity services to assess whether there had been any change since the last survey in 1999.

A total of 2909 women who gave birth during February and March last year were surveyed.

Ms Browne said the results provide a valuable resource for policy development and quality improvement in the delivery of maternity services.

``The survey shows a small but consistent improvement across all indicators of satisfaction. The intensity of women's views has also increased, with women more likely to strongly agree, which means they are more satisfied with services than they have been in the past,'' Ms Browne said.

``Between 1999 and early 2002, there was little change to the maternity framework, so the general level of satisfaction indicates practitioners are providing good service and systems are working well.''

Ms Browne said the survey also provides some direction for future policy development and areas for improvement in service delivery.

``Getting an insight into areas we can develop and monitor is essential if we are to continue improving maternity services for women in New Zealand,'' Ms Browne said.

``The survey confirms that women consider that some key aspects of maternity are crucial. Women believe it is essential to have a choice of LMC who best suits their needs, a choice of where they can have their baby, home visits, availability of primary maternity facilities, collegial relationships between LMC and secondary maternity, involvement in decision-making, and women not incurring any costs for core services.

``Survey results also provide areas for improvement in service delivery. Attention should be given to the quality of the inpatient stay, particularly the availability of staff to provide sufficient care to the woman and baby. In addition, the audit programme needs to ensure compliance with the minimum requirement for postnatal home midwifery visits and for professional review.''

Breastfeeding advice in hospitals, and consistency of this advice, received the lowest rating.

Ms Browne said this was of concern, but noted that since the survey, the Ministry has launched Breastfeeding: A Guide To Action which sets out action points for improving the initiation and maintenance of breastfeeding. The WHO-UNICEF Baby Friendly Hospitals Initiative has also been introduced to New Zealand, with three of the country's 85 maternity facilities accredited late last year.

``We'll be looking at the survey results and working with Districts Health Boards, providers and practitioners to make sure we can improve in the areas highlighted by women,'' Ms Browne said.

She noted initiatives to achieve an improvement in service delivery largely need to occur at a local level.

``The focus now needs to move from the maternity framework to quality improvement in the delivery of the services, so as to safeguard the future credibility and stability of maternity services,'' she said.

The survey can be viewed on the Ministry of Health website: http://www.moh.govt.nz

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