Wānaka Sun       

Upper Clutha midwives deserve support in May budget

Posted at 6:00am Thursday 07 May, 2020 | By Pat Deavoll editor@thewanakasun.co.nz

“Wanaka's isolation and distance from Dunedin has put additional pressure on midwives who work many hours in a critical role, yet are poorly paid,” said Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean.

“In the Waitaki electorate alone, over the last couple of years many midwives in the Upper Clutha have left the profession, because they felt unsafe and unsupported in their role. Young mums are having to travel long distances to Dunedin Hospital for anything but a normal birth.

 “They've also expended considerable energy mobilising about maternity care, which is one of the critical issues contributing to the rural health crisis.

“They deserve better than this.”

There were already fears for the future of maternity services in Wanaka and Central Otago before the pandemic, especially with the delay to the development of Wanaka's Maternal and Child Hub, said Deans.

“Midwives deserve support from the Government in the upcoming May budget.”

Last year, the National Party called on the Minister of Health to apologise to midwives for failing to provide for them in the previous year's budget, Deans said.

This followed the High Court case where the Minister and the New Zealand College of Midwives reached an agreement to settle the college's pay equity claim, which is still unresolved. Working with the college of midwives, the previous National government was ready to sign off on a new model of care for funding and contracting of community Lead Maternity Carer (LMC) midwives. However, the new funding model was not adopted by the incoming Labour Government and no additional funding was provided in last year's budget.

“Coronavirus has added an extra layer of stress to an already stressful situation, not to mention extra expense with the need to provide their own PPE equipment, without clear guidelines about how this might be reimbursed by the government,” Deans said.

“My hope is that this Labour Government will finally acknowledge that midwives need more funding support as the previous National Government did, and support them in budget 2020.”

Read edition 973 of the Wānaka Sun here.

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