The College of Midwives is calling on health officials and the Minister to urgently address the shortage of midwives and facilities in the Southland DHB region.
The College’s Chief Executive, Alison Eddy, says contrary to the DHB CEO, an ambulance is not an entirely appropriate place to have a baby – something that happened earlier this week between Lumsden and Invercargill.
“I’m not going to repeat the issues related to having a baby on the side of a road in an ambulance however this is something that underlines significant ongoing issues in this area of New Zealand,” she says.
“Mr Fleming says he lies awake at night thinking about how to get more midwives into the region. Well, we have been making the answer to that conundrum quite clear for a number for years. Don’t further decimate the service would be the first place to start. Our maternity system is world class when it is resourced correctly. Midwives are the backbone of the maternity service and in the vast majority of rural communities, the only health professionals providing maternity care. As key support structures, like rural maternity units are closed it becomes increasingly challenging for midwives to maintain the maternity service in these communities. Midwives working within those regions, will move away unless there is sufficient support available, they simply won’t come back,” she says.
Ms Eddy also cites the Midwifery Locum Rural Service as an area in maternity that requires urgent attention.
“This national service, formed in 2009, has had no increase in funding for almost 10 years. The large geographical areas our midwives cover, the extra workload, travel requirements and stress, more accommodation costs – means that the service is stretched to provide the relief needed for to support the rural midwifery workforce adequately. We are literally holding our breath to see if there will be any relief in the budget today to further support this invaluable service.
Alison Eddy says there is an urgent need, in the Southland area particularly, for a robust and sustainable maternity service to ensure the very best outcomes for women and babies.