The following can be attributed to the College of Midwives Chief Executive, Alison Eddy:
The suspension of services at the Ōpōtiki Primary Maternity Unit is yet another reduction of choice and services for women, which is hugely disappointing.
The DHB has cited a shortage of midwives for the closure, however there has been no change in the midwifery workforce in Ōpōtiki, and the community midwives continue to provide an excellent service to the women in the area as they have done for many years.
This is about a demand that has not been planned for by the DHB, and is now not being met. The size of the workforce is only large enough to maintain the service and it doesn’t allow for any flexibility.
It is disappointing that despite more than four years of mediating with the Ministry of Health and Government about appropriately resourcing the midwifery-led maternity service, we continue to fire fight issues, almost on a daily basis. Women’s health should not be at the bottom of the funding barrel.
The College has therefore launched a petition and campaign this week to highlight current midwifery workforce issues, and demonstrate support from the community for the solutions that the College and the Ministry of Health have worked on together. The proposed solutions include implementing a revised funding model (providing women with greater needs, requires additional care), fair and reasonable pay, and developing an organisation dedicated to support community midwives.
We are thrilled with the response to the petition posted online yesterday with signatures expected to surpass 9,000 by the end of today. It is clear that New Zealanders support midwives and we hope the politicians hear our voices and address the long-standing issues around pay parity and support for community based midwives.
One of our key aims as midwives and advocates for the best outcomes for women and babies, is to ensure women have choices about where they birth, and we have appropriate and sustainable birthing facilities available across New Zealand.