Comments from the Ministry of Health’s spokesperson on Child and Youth Health have buoyed the New Zealand College of Midwives today.
Following the release of a retrospective study of birth outcomes, which the College says reinforces claims that maternity services continue to be under pressure, the MoH’s Dr Pat Tuohy said in the media today that issues such as access to hospital and specialists will be looked into.
College of Midwives Chief Executive, Karen Guilliland, says, “To hear Pat Tuohy say this morning that this study is useful “to shine the light on where we can make improvements” and adding that the College has “made a valid interpretation of why the study may have found what it did is the back up the College has been asking for years,” she says.
The College says that their review of the Comparison of Maternity Care Models study highlights that private maternity care cannot be compared to the underfunded public maternity system. Access to timely and professional obstetric specialist care within maternity hospitals (when needed) is an important part of maintaining New Zealand’s world class maternity service for all women and their babies.
Dr Tuohy said this morning that the College’s point regarding “when women turn up for care around the time of delivery and they need referral to a specialist, that referral may not be happening in a timely fashion. That’s something we can investigate.”
“The fact that the Ministry is going to look into this is extremely positive for our midwifery led women-centred maternity system and the more than 60,000 women who access it every year,” Karen Guilliland says.
Additionally, it has been helpful for the College to be able to communicate that comparing obstetric led care with midwifery led care, while not factoring in things like how remote a woman lives and her general health and wellbeing on entry to the services (which can affect birth outcomes), does not produce a reliable result.
“We have been contacted by the Royal NZ College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCoG) today and their support of our women-centred service is greatly appreciated,” Guilliland says. “We are particularly pleased with their reinforcement of the point the College made about the lack of information in the study on how many of the women who booked with a midwife ended up having midwifery-care alone. The study recorded who a woman engages as her LMC at the start of the service but often that changes and the journey is one where care is shared or the person delivering the baby is different to who the LMC was at the start. RANZCOG said that as an example, one of their members works at rooms where “between 40 and 50% of pregnant women see an obstetrician at some stage, even though they all book with a midwife, and so the outcomes are a result of combined care.”
The Ministry supports this and their data suggests a third of women registered with a midwife LMC will end up with combined midwife and obstetric specialist care.
Karen Guilliland says she and her members are very pleased there has been so much support shown for midwives and the College today, across the maternity sector, and is confident that the midwifery led maternity service will continue to be one of the most highly regarded maternity services in the world.