After many years of underfunding in health, our midwives are stretched beyond capacity. Our midwives fulfil a vital role in our society.
My wife and I had the same midwife for the birth of our four children.
The support and care she gave us was excellent, and I personally appreciated the opportunity to be actively involved in each birth. The birth of a child is one of the most precious moments a parent can experience. It's vital that parents are supported throughout the pregnancy, birth and early months of their child's life.
I recently met with 70 Waikato-based midwives to discuss the important work they undertake. My Parliamentary colleagues and I also welcomed a large number of midwives at Parliament last week.
Both these conversations highlighted the challenges midwives are facing around pay structures and working conditions.
After many years of underfunding in health, our midwives are stretched beyond capacity. Issues involve professional isolation, burnout and attrition. There is work to be done around hours of work, caseloads, pay structures and how midwives can work more closely with the wider primary care sector.
Over the past few years, women have been turning up at the hospital not knowing where to turn for care. The hospital staff do their very best to accommodate these women, but they currently stretched beyond their capability to offer the standard of care one could expect from a Lead Maternity Carer (LMC).
LMC midwives are self-employed workers who do not have the capacity to set pay limits or hours of work. New graduate practitioners often work for months without pay, due to a structure that ties the majority of remuneration around the birth. They are also required to be on call 24/7.
Minister David Clark has indicated that next week's Budget will include a package to start addressing the issues facing midwives, however, he has also noted that the Government will not be able to address all health issues in one budget.
Over recent years, a number of midwives have left the profession, and it's important we work to bring them back, so that the women of New Zealand can continue to receive the world-leading care they deserve.