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Govt Puts Extra $103 Million Into Maternity Services

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Tony Ryall
Tony Ryall

Wellington, May 19 NZPA - The Government will spend an extra $103.5 million on maternity services over the next four years, Health Minister Tony Ryall announced today.

He said the Government had recognised the need for new mothers to have the option of a longer stay in hospital if they needed extra support, and $38.5m of the total would be spent on that.

"We have heard from too many new mothers who have felt pressured into going home before they are ready, and those who could benefit from extra support," he said.

The extra funding will also pay for:

* an optional meeting each trimester for at risk mothers, attended by the pregnant woman, their doctor and their lead maternity carer;

* obstetric training or refreshers for GPs who want to return to maternity care;

* meeting the costs from the increase in the number of births each year; and

* fully funding the Plunketline 24 hours telephone advice, as previously announced.

Mr Ryall said longer stays for new mothers would help them establish breast feeding and gain confidence in caring for their babies before going home.

Additional visits to doctors and lead maternity carers for at risk mothers during pregnancy would help encourage better integration with primary health care services and increase support for pregnant women.

The additional visits will cost $9.9m over four years.

Mr Ryall said GPs who wanted to retrain or refresh their obstetric skills would have access to funded training courses at a cost of $1.1m over four years.

The aim is to increase the number of GP lead maternity carers.

There is $40m over four years for maternity services to match the higher birthrate.

The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) welcomed Mr Ryall's announcement but said changes were needed to the maternity structure before any "meaningful difference" could be made to the delivery of services.

NZMA chairman Peter Foley said doctors and nurses were unlikely to be enticed back into maternity services unless it was integrated into the PHO (Primary Health Organisation) framework.

"The NZMA has made proposals to the Government about the need for changes to the structure of maternity services," Dr Foley said.

"This is crucial to ensure that continuity of medical care is available to women throughout their pregnancy, and that medical and mifwifery services are co-ordinated so that the best quality care is offered."

Plunket welcomed the extra funding but the Labour Party said Mr Ryall's announcement was "vague and underwhelming".

Deputy leader Annette King said there were no details about how much longer new mothers would be able to stay in hospital and the extra funding did not deal with the biggest issue in maternity care -- the shortage of midwives.

"Anyone who knows about maternity care will recognise today's announcement as being little more than Tony Ryall putting on a show for the media."


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