Midwives travelling to more remote areas throughout the Whanganui region are set to benefit from a $242 million funding boost for maternity services.
The Government funding was announced last week and Whanganui DHB Director of Midwifery, Lucy Pettit, said it was a significant milestone.
"This recognition of the care the Lead Maternity Carer midwives provide to women and their whānau is fantastic," she said.
"The funding to compensate midwives for additional travel when providing care to women in rural areas and to those with higher needs during their pregnancy could provide much-needed stability and support retention of this essential workforce."
She said this provision of funding also recognised the importance of the First 1000 days initiative to support the best possible start in life for all children.
Jacqui Anderson, acting chief executive from the New Zealand College of Midwives, said she was aware there had been issues and the need for extra support for rural midwives in the Rangitikei and up towards Raetihi.
"Rural midwives in the Whanganui region will be the same as many others as they have a long way to travel and at the moment they get remunerated very minimally for some parts of the care."
Anderson said a lot of these midwives had been providing many of their services to rural women at their own expense.
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"You're a health professional in a rural area and there's an expectation that you understand how people access things and where they get things and who the providers are and that's all fine but when there aren't those services around it falls on the midwife who wants to ensure the women and whanau actually get these services. They will go the extra mile for that and now there's some acknowledgment around that."
Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter said the package included $85 million so midwives can be paid for a scope of care they are already providing, an additional $57 million over four years to help cover the growing costs and demand pressures within the Primary Maternity Services Notice, which includes a 2.18 per cent increase to fees Lead Maternity Carers receive and $35 million funding for the Maternity Action Plan which will develop services that better reflect a kaupapa Māori approach to maternity care.
"It's a real acknowledgment of the service and the need to resource it appropriately and it's an acknowledgment to midwives that somebody is listening," Anderson said.
She said the college had lost a lot of rural and provincial midwives over the years because of the little support and she hoped this funding had the potential to attract midwives back into the areas.