HFA funding decision threatens maternity ward care
The standard of care available in the maternity wards of public hospitals will be placed in further jeopardy by the Health Funding Authority's decision to open up funding to full competition, Labour health spokesperson Annette King said today.
"The HFA has expressed concern at the two-tier system of maternity care put in place at National Women's Hospital. But the HFA's funding practices will force other hospitals to consider a similar course of action.
"The HFA began funding the private provider Birthcare Auckland in August 1997. The funding is capped at 1000 post-natal care patients a year. The number of women using National Women's maternity wards has fallen by the same number.
"The contract comes up for review next month. But the HFA has already decided to remove the cap on the number of patients that can be treated by Birthcare Auckland, which is moving to new premises and is now planning for 2000 post-natal stays a year.
"The private provider has always operated a two-tier system of care and it has a number of advantages over National Women's - for one, it has use of newer, more comfortable facilities.
"This decision by the HFA, based on the National Government's competitive model for health, will put greater pressure on National Women's and other public hospital maternity wards in the Auckland area.
"The eventual result will be a basic, unsatisfactory standard of maternity care for the less well-off, and a luxury service for those prepared and able to pay.
"The next Labour Government will not allow this to happen. The Minister of Health must stop prevaricating and show that he too believes that all New Zealand women are entitled to quality maternity care," Annette King said.