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‘Bribes’ for new mums the tip of an iceberg

Tony Ryall MP
National Party Health Spokesman
Katrina Shanks
National Party MP
29 November 2007
‘Bribes’ for new mums the tip of an iceberg
Attn Reporters: Regional Figures Attached

National Party Health spokesman Tony Ryall says Wellington hospital’s $100 reward for new mums to go home within six hours of birth is a symptom of a much wider problem.

"David Cunliffe has understated the problem, saying this is one organisation’s response to a staff shortage. DHBNZ documents obtained by National say ’the shortage of midwives is almost at crisis point’ and ‘that it is particularly critical in rural areas’," Mr Ryall says.
"This is more evidence of hopeless workforce planning by Labour. Plenty of reports, but no action."

The comments are contained in a draft midwifery workforce survey carried out in July and August this year. While the data is not definitive, it suggests there is a national shortage of up to 200 midwives and it is not forecast to get any better over the next six months.

"The figures on a DHB-by-DHB basis are alarming. And the range of views on recruiting and retaining midwives demonstrate a real need for better co-ordination between DHBs. Labour talks about this a lot, but constantly fails to deliver," Mr Ryall says.

Wellington-based MP Katrina Shanks says she is alarmed that despite the extra $5 billion a year Labour has spent on health, Wellington Hospital is resorting to bribery to free up beds and resources.

"The women who will be the most tempted by this bribe are the women who often need the most help. To make matters worse, they’ll be very lucky if they can find a midwife," says Ms Shanks.

Mr Ryall says the DHBs can’t agree where the replacements are going to come from and they can’t agree on a joint recruitment initiative.

"Keeping the midwives we already have in the system must be the top priority. That's the first thing the Government should be doing.
"As well as ensuring better co-ordination between DHBs, Labour should also be engaging health professionals in the decision-making process. They will have strong views about recruitment and retention."

As National also signalled in its recently released health discussion document, the party is investigating bonding and student-loan debt write-offs for those health professionals working in hard-to-staff areas (geographic and speciality), and for those re-entering the workforce.

View the National Party Health Discussion Document, Better, Sooner, More Convenient:


Attached: Draft – Midwifery Workforce Survey – 8 pages.

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