The New Zealand College of Midwives commends the Government on its proposal to amend ACC legislation and update its Maternity Action Plan, saying the developments signify increased attention is finally being paid to women’s health.
The proposed amendments to ACC legislation will result in an extension of cover, meaning more injuries sustained by women during childbirth will qualify. This is a welcome change, after ACC’s previous decision in 2020 restricted cover for these types of injuries, significantly disadvantaging women recovering from an already traumatic birth experience.
New Zealand College of Midwives (The College) CEO, Ms Alison Eddy, says the announcement is an encouraging sign that the voices of health workers - who see the consequences of such inequitable processes firsthand - are being heard.
“We are very pleased to see that our feedback, along with that from many others in the sector, was taken seriously and ACC’s approach to this category will be reviewed. It is our view that every institution operating within the health sector has a responsibility to ensure barriers to health care are reduced, and maternity care should be no exception to this.”
Ms Eddy explains that having this type of injury covered by ACC is all the more significant when considered within the overall context of having a baby; a life-changing and potentially overwhelming event for wāhine and their whānau.
“Whilst severe birth-related injury affects only a very small percentage of wāhine in Aotearoa, the trauma extends beyond the physical, and these wāhine/whānau need support to easily access the services that will enable the shortest route to recovery. The extension of ACC cover to include a broader and less severe range of birth-related injuries means wāhine no longer need to waste time and energy battling the system to get the care they deserve.”
The College also welcomes updates to the Ministry of Health’s Maternity Action Plan, in particular the proposed work to improve maternal mental health services and renewed focus on reducing inequitable outcomes for whānau Māori and other disadvantaged groups.