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More Midwives Than Ever Before In New Zealand

The number of midwives holding an Annual Practicing Certificate (APC) is at the highest level ever.

At a time when parts of New Zealand and some DHB’s are struggling to recruit, numbers provided by the regulatory body, the Midwifery Council, show that at the end of April this year, 3171 midwives had APC’s, that’s 102 more than in 2018.

New Zealand College of Midwives Chief Executive, Alison Eddy, says the suggestion we don’t have enough midwives, appears to be wrong.

“They are there but they are deciding to work part time, intermittently or not at all,” she says. “We have an unattractive, under-resourced maternity sector, which we have been warning the Ministry and Government about for years. Our maternity system is a world leading model, and like anything, works well when it is properly funded and supported.”

She cites around 10 midwives in the Wanaka region that have APCs however are not working in the area at the moment.

Eddy says there are a number of things that would encourage midwives to re-enter the workforce or to increase the number of hours they choose to work.

“Better staffing levels, improved working conditions and effective retention strategies for hospital employed midwives, a sustainable locum service, better co-ordination and support for community-based midwives across the country – these are some of the things that would help,” she says. “One of the main aims of the co-design work we have been undertaking with the Ministry for the last two years is to create a Community Midwifery Organisation (CMO) which would provide much needed support and co-ordination while managing payments made to the self-employed midwives.”

A Midwifery Accord with the Ministry of Health, MERAS – the midwifery union, DHBs and other stakeholders, is just getting underway and is expected to identify and develop strategies to recruit, retain and re-employ midwives within DHBs. Alison Eddy says this is a positive step and a good start.

“Retention is the key as we know there are midwives out there. We hope that the Accord will help to build a sustainable midwifery workforce and support the continued growth in the number of midwives employed in our hospitals. However, midwives working in the community also need support, which is where the CMO is the key as it will provide tangible support, which will lead to improved working conditions,” she says.

Ms Eddy says she wants to emphasise that the midwifery-led maternity system is not broken and doesn’t need changing.

“Midwifery as a profession must be made sustainable, with an attractive working environment, properly resourced to provide positive outcomes for women and babies,” she says.

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