Five-year Govt plan aims to end maternity-care problems

By Craig Borley

A five-year plan to get on top of the country's maternity-care problems will be unveiled by Health Minister David Cunliffe today.

The plan will include strategies to improve recruitment and retention of maternity-services staff and will lay out the future direction of funding and training.

The findings from the Ministry of Health's July review of Capital and Coast District Health Board's maternity services will also be revealed. The review was prompted by the deaths of two newborns in the care of Wellington's maternity services.

Conducted by an independent panel of advisers, it was to focus on the way the board and maternity providers had worked together. Mr Cunliffe said at the time that the health board had been unable to fully investigate the actions of independent midwives who worked at the board's facilities but were not employed by the hospital.

The midwifery shortage was highlighted when the country's busiest maternity unit, at Middlemore Hospital in South Auckland, last year had to pay midwives up to $700 for a casual shift just to ensure safe staffing levels.

The lack of up to 48 midwives at Counties Manukau District Health Board was so acute it was dubbed a "timebomb" by Maternity Services Consumer Council co-ordinator Lynda Williams.

Nationwide, the 21 health boards reported being short by nearly 100 midwives this year.

- NZ Herald

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