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National: No mum to be forced home after birth

John Key MP National Party Leader

14 October 2008

National: No mum to be forced home after birth

National's Leader John Key says his party will ensure that every new mother and baby will have weekly contact with a health professional for the first nine weeks.

National will also reverse Labour's cancelled funding of PlunketLine, meaning parents will now have access to a 24-hour Plunket service.

"Maternity care is in crisis. In many parts of the country there is a chronic shortage of midwives, pregnant women cannot choose a Lead Maternity Carer (LMC), and there is no choice in birthing facilities.

"GPs, lead maternity carers, and providers of postnatal care often do not communicate enough. Too many new mothers are being pressured to go home before they are ready, and many who are at-risk are not getting the extra help they need. This must change

"National will improve maternity services to provide safe and high-quality care for pregnant women, young mothers, and their babies.

"To reach theses goals National will make the most of existing resources. We will also provide new investment to boost the maternity workforce, help at-risk mothers, give mothers the choice to stay longer in birthing facilities and get more support, and we will increase postnatal visits for new mothers.

"To help achieve these goals, we need more skilled midwives, GPs, and obstetricians to be there when women need them."

National will: * Establish a voluntary bonding scheme that writes off student loan debt for graduate midwives who agree to work in hard-to-staff areas for three to five years. * Subsidise re-training and refresher courses for GPs who have a postgraduate Diploma in Obstetrics and Medical Gynaecology (or equivalent), and who want to resume providing maternity care. * Encourage clinical networks across regions to assist in the planning, delivery, and improvement of maternity care.

Mr Key says National also recognises that at-risk mothers are not getting enough support through the maternity-care system.

"National will fund an optional meeting each trimester for at-risk mother so they can discuss their care plan with their Lead Maternity Carer and their GP together. Mothers will be able to access these meetings if they, their GP, or their LMC believes they have special circumstances which places them at risk."

National will: * Fund an optional meeting each trimester for at-risk mothers so they can discuss their care plan with their Lead Maternity Carer (LMC) and their GP together. This is an estimated cost of $1.5 million per year.

"National believes that women should have the opportunity to choose from a range of safe birthing options - and the chance to give birth in a facility that is as close to home as possible. We also believe that new mothers should have the opportunity to stay longer in a birthing unit until breastfeeding is established and they are confident about returning home."

National will:

* Work with DHBs to provide greater choice in birthing facilities , closer to home.

* Ensure mothers have the opportunity stay in birthing facilities longer to establish breastfeeding and confidence to return home.

* Fully fund PlunketLine.

The cost of these initiatives are estimated at $11 million per year in longer stays, and $3 million per year for PlunketLine. The funding for these programmes was flagged in National's previously released funding framework.

"In the past few weeks, National has been laying out a comprehensive plan to deliver better, sooner, more convenient healthcare. The policies I am announcing today are part of that thoughtful and co-ordinated package."

ENDS

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