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Petition Challenging Midwifery Scope Of Practice Heads To Parliament

A petition asking Parliament to investigate the New Zealand Midwifery Council’s removal of the words ‘woman’ and ‘baby’ from the revised Scope of Practice for Midwives is being presented to Parliament at 1pm, Tuesday, 9 April.

James Meager, National MP for Rangitata in Mid and South Canterbury, will accept the petition from Ashburton midwife Deb Hayes, who is one of his constituents.

Mrs Hayes wrote the petition in January 2024 and when it closed on 1 March, almost 7500 people had signed the petition, which shows the depth of feeling about the issue. Most petitions to the New Zealand Parliament receive fewer than 1000 signatures.

Mr Meager said that although he doesn’t have a particular view on the substance of the petition, it is a topic worth looking into.

“I’d like to congratulate the hard work of Debbie in bringing this petition and gathering over 7000 signatures in support. It is clearly an issue which is important to many New Zealanders, including those in Mid and South Canterbury, and one which we are happy to look into,” he said.

In March this year, the Midwifery Council added ‘women’ back into the Scope of Practice as a tag-on to the word ‘persons’.

Mrs Hayes said that although it was pleasing to see the Midwifery Council listened somewhat to the public about the language they wanted to see written in a document about women and babies, it was still disappointing that they didn’t listen to 90% of the stakeholders who disagreed with the revised Scope of Practice two years ago in the second of two rounds of consultation.

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“Unfortunately, the new intended revised Scope of Practice is still a document that will likely be challenging from a legislative and regulatory perspective,” Mrs Hayes said.

“The lack of clarity in the translation of Midwife as ‘Kāhu Pokai’ in te reo Māori, and the large range of people (men, women and children) who are covered by the Scope’s wording of ‘women/persons and whanau’, appears to be a Scope for a Generalist Practitioner, not a Midwife with women and newborn babies at the centre of care.”

Mr Meager said he was happy to fulfil his role in receiving this petition and presenting it to the Parliament in his role as the local electorate MP for the petitioner.

“The removal of the words ‘women’ and ‘baby’ from a midwifery scope of practice does seem unusual, and inappropriate,” he said. “I understand that the Midwifery Council may already be making changes in this area, and this is something that Parliament can take into account when it considers the petition.”

Mr Meager chairs the Justice Select Committee and is a member of the Regulations Review Committee which oversees regulations of non-Parliamentary bodies, including bodies that set professional scopes of practice, to ensure these are fair and consistent with the law.

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