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Midwifery in Crisis

Midwifery in Crisis

Midwives are appealing to the new Government to act urgently to deal with the unfolding crisis in New Zealand’s midwifery workforce.

The New Zealand College of Midwives warned the previous Government over many years that pay for community midwives was failing to keep pace with inflation and the level of work required of midwives. Meanwhile, under-resourcing – leading to chronic under-staffing – was undermining the morale of midwives working in our hospitals and maternity units.

“We are hearing an increasing number of stories from around the country of severe shortages as midwives continue to leave the profession,” says Karen Guilliland, Chief Executive of the New Zealand College of Midwives. “We can now see a pattern confirming that this is a service in crisis”, she says.

Mrs Guilliland says this is the result of years of under-funding in New Zealand’s maternity service however the College is heartened that the new Government has decided to enter negotiations to ensure pay equity for mental health support workers, which, like midwifery is a mainly female workforce.

“The College began fighting for pay equity for midwives three years ago when we began court action under the previous Government. This action led to an agreement between the College and the Ministry of Health to design a new funding model for community-based (LMC) midwives. We have presented our recommendations to the Ministry’s leadership team and the new Minister of Health. At this stage, we have no certainty that the recommendations from the co-design will be accepted, or funded,” she says

Mrs Guilliland is urging the new Government to reassure midwives that they will not be disappointed.

“The College is increasingly concerned that every day we wait, the sustainability of the midwifery profession continues to be negatively affected and this in turn has a significant impact on women’s access to maternity services. More and more women will be unable to find a midwife if this crisis is not urgently addressed.”

Mrs Guilliland says the new Government has an opportunity to resolve this and the College and its members cannot highlight the urgency of this situation enough.

“We need the Ministry and the Minister to act immediately,” she says.

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