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Maternity Proposals Disastrous For Women's Choice

9 September 2001

Ministry of Health proposals to change maternity arrangements will take choice away from women and is infuriating specialist obstetricians, paediatricians, radiologists and anaesthetists, National's Associate Health spokesperson Dr Paul Hutchison said today.

"At National Women's Hospital, where a significant number of births are carried out by specialists, some specialists are threatening to quit their maternity work completely if the Minister stops them from being able to charge relatively small co-payments.

"If Annette King allows these changes* to go through, specialists will leave the maternity system in droves. That would be disastrous for women in both the public and private sector."

Dr Hutchison said many general practitioner obstetricians have already left, with Otago's Professor of Obstetricians saying it's almost impossible to recruit high quality obstetricians.

"A major finding of the 1999 Maternity Review was 'the question of choice of provider and the type and level of care is central to the satisfaction all women experience during maternity care.'

"Taking away the right for specialists to charge co-payments would mean that only the wealthy few could afford private obstetrics care.

"Annette King must not be allowed to get away with this. It is yet another sign of her absolute inability to mange the health sector. I challenge specialists throughout the country to fight for their current rights so that New Zealand women and their families can maintain choice within maternity provisions," Dr Hutchison said.

Ends

*The Ministry of Health's 'proposal to change maternity contracts' can be found under 'news and issues/media releases' at www.moh.govt.nz


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