Disappointment at new budget’s neglect of midwives

Midwives expected to hear about funding improvements for community midwives and funding to support maternity services, but the budget released on May 14 did not address maternity at all.

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean has voiced her disappointment and dismay that midwives have once again been “ignored” following the 2020 budget announcement on May 14.

“I’m gutted for mothers and babies in Wānaka and Central Otago that they’re not going to get the additional funding they so desperately need, because the broken funding model has still not been fixed by the Labour Government,” said Dean.

“On the International Day Of The Midwife on May 5 at the daily coronavirus conference, the PM made a strong show of acknowledging the work of midwives. It is very disappointing that this hasn’t translated into the support the sector needs and deserves.”

Alison Eddy, chief executive of the College of Midwives, revealed she was only informed that the budget would not address maternity an hour and a half before it was announced. “Given the urgency of the issues facing the midwifery workforce, we are perplexed as to why this would be the case,” she said.

“The delay is deeply disappointing to the midwifery workforce which remains frayed but hopeful. Midwives today expected to hear about funding improvements for community midwives and funding to support maternity services for new mothers and babies.”

Eddy added that there would be additional announcements regarding budget funding and she hoped that the rolling release of details would include midwifery - although the timeframe was unclear.

“I want to reassure midwives and women around the country that we remain committed to resolving the issues we have been working with the government and the ministry on, for almost five years now,” she said.

Meanwhile, with the public consultation on Central Lakes maternity services being delayed indefinitely by the Southern District Health Board due to coronavirus, the ongoing uncertainty around when and how provisions for maternity services in Wānaka and the surrounding areas will be improved drags on.

“We’ve still got midwives who have left the profession because they feel unsupported. We’re still left with mothers who have to travel long distances to Dunedin Hospital for anything other than a normal birth,” said Dean.

“The previous National Government reached a settlement agreement with the New Zealand College of Midwives (NZCOM) to develop a new funding model. The current overnment has stopped this work in its tracks and midwives are yet to see any progress.

“The lack of progress is completely unacceptable and severely risks us losing the midwives who are so important to New Zealand’s workforce. This must be remedied immediately,” Dean said.

Read edition 976 of the Wānaka Sun here.


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