Midwives in Northland are being forced to refuse help for women living in outlying areas because of high fuel prices.

College of Midwives Northland chair Nicole Pihema told Newstalk ZB, midwives were not taking women in certain areas because they were unable to afford enough fuel to provide that care.

"Local midwives are feeling the pinch but they are so busy that we know that the cost is something that we take on because we don't want our community to suffer so there are midwives who won't be able to do that, they are having to pull back."

Between October 2017 and September this year, petrol prices have risen 39c to about $2.50 in some parts of the country. Pihema said petrol cost around $2.44 a litre in Northland.

She said she travelled more than 2000km in the past week and filled up her car three times. She said work was busy now because of the large number of babies being born which had been conceived last summer.


"They don't have any choice really because we do have women in our care that we are expected to provide that care to. It's just simply not sustainable in the long term.

"Recently, I've had to not take a woman who lived quite a fair distance away, she had no transport so she couldn't even meet me halfway.

"That's an effort her family will have to try and make because we simply can't get there, its just too far."

Pihema said some midwives were dipping into their own pockets to pay for food for families and fuel for appointments. She said this was the dilemma facing most families.

"We are seeing the effects in their homes. It's the weigh up of, 'do I put petrol in my vehicle or do I feed my kids'."

She said midwives would need take on more women to afford the extra cost of fuel but this would simply raise costs even more.

"To be able to afford the additional costs, you'll either have to take on a larger case load but more women means more costs or you would have to draw back or let it go until you can actually afford that."

Pihema said DHB funding came as a reimbursement so midwives still had to deal with the upfront cost. She said North lad received no other funding despite other region's services received funding in the form of petrol vouchers.

She said it had a significant impact on the care midwives provided and women in outlying areas were the most in need.

"The women who are in those outlying areas are the ones that are particularly vulnerable and require that service."

It's not just about digging into the costs we have, you're actually in the red. It's money that you don't have."