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Maternity: Another 'action plan' 'consultation'

Tony Ryall MP
National Party Health Spokesman

9 October 2008

Maternity: Another 'action plan' for 'consultation'

“New Zealanders will see straight through Labour’s nonsense today that it has all the solutions to fix the maternity care crisis that has developed under Helen Clark’s nose,” says National Party Health spokesman Tony Ryall.

"Just like the highly critical cardiac report, the Labour Government is cynically diverting attention from the damning Wellington maternity report by releasing yet another ‘strategic vision’ and ‘action plan’ document for ‘consultation’. There they go again.

“When new mums were being forced to breast feed their babies in waiting rooms next to public toilets Labour didn’t want to know about it.

“When the first time mother lost her baby after being forced to go home six hours after giving birth, Labour was still denying the maternity care crisis. Now, after nine years and just a few weeks out from a general election, Labour is pretending it has the answers.

“Well, if Labour always had the answers, why has it taken nine years for Helen Clark to action them?

"Today's damning report on maternity services accuses Labour of giving low priority to maternity services with no nationwide plan. It says professional groups have been talking past each other and that workforce shortages are chronic.”

Mr Ryall says Labour has produced 55 reports on the workforce crisis that has been unfolding in health, but has failed to heed repeated calls for action.

A DHBNZ survey in the middle of last year pointed to a midwife shortage of around 200 across both the community and hospital sector. Fifteen out of the 21DHBs said they have a shortage of midwives: Bay of Plenty, Canterbury, Hutt Valley, Hawkes Bay, Lakes, MidCentral, Capital & Coast, and Auckland, Waitemata (West), MidCentral (Tararua), Whanganui, Taranaki, Northland, Counties-Manukau and Southland.

“There are areas which have been described as time bombs, such as Counties Manakau which is short 48 midwives, while Capital and Coast DHB last year had to close a whole maternity ward due to staff shortages.”

National MP Katrina Shanks has been alerting the country to these problems for months but Labour has ignored them.

“So it should not surprise Labour if the public react with cynicism to its sudden interest in maternity care,” says Mrs Shanks.

Mr Ryall says National has been rolling out a practical plan to start tackling the health workforce crisis, which includes the voluntary bonding of midwives in hard-to-staff areas.

ENDS


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