Government acts to support midwives

  • Hon Dr David Clark
  • Hon Julie Anne Genter

Health Minister Dr David Clark and Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter have announced a package of additional support for community-based midwives, which responds to the pressure they have been under.

“I know parents around New Zealand value the work of midwives. They are dedicated professionals who invariably go the extra mile to support mothers and babies,” says David Clark.

“We have been listening to the concerns of midwives, who feel undervalued and undersupported.

“Budget 2018 includes $103.6 million of new operating funding over the next four years to support community midwifery services, plus $9.0 million in 2017/18. About half of that funding will go towards an 8.9 per cent ‘catch-up’ increase in fees for over 1,400 lead maternity carers.

“There is no question that over the last decade the fees paid to community-based midwives have not kept pace with the pay increases of their colleagues employed by District Health Boards (DHBs). That is simply not fair, and the 8.9 per cent increase will address that gap,” says David Clark.

The increase has been calculated using a range of factors, including CPI and DHB collective agreement increases, and means that average annual increases over the last decade for community midwives are now in line with average increases for DHB midwives.

“Mothers and babies rely on the professionalism and aroha of midwives, and today’s recognition of the importance of community midwives is long overdue,” says Julie Anne Genter.

The funding will also provide $10.0 million over two years to recognise the self-employed nature of community midwifery and the costs associated with that model.

“Today’s package also includes funding to help ensure safe hours of work. Currently, midwives who call on colleagues to take over care during a lengthy labour have to fund this out of their own fees. The Budget provides $16.0 million over four years to assist midwives with these costs,” says Julie Anne Genter.

The remaining $27.6 million over four years recognises population and demand pressures.

“Everyone wants our midwives to be practising in a safe way, and midwives want mothers and babies to be safe. This is the first step to make sure the whole system is working as it should,” says David Clark.