The midwives’ union, MERAS, is calling for higher pay for midwives to address staffing shortages.
It says in the last six months several areas of the country have seen a reduction in the number of self-employed midwives, with some retiring and others leaving these roles.
Where these self-employed midwives are not replaced, the District Health Board becomes responsible for ensuring that local women are still able to receive maternity care but this requires additional employed midwifery staffing, says MERAS spokeswoman Caroline Conroy.
Earlier this week there was publicity about the difficulties being faced by midwives at Auckland Hospital, but Ms Conroy says Auckland is not alone.
The current pay structure for employed midwives does not reflect the training and specialist nature of the role, she says.
Working conditions for midwives are difficult, with high vacancy rates, budgets too low for the demand and reductions in the local self-employed midwifery workforce.
“Even in maternity units without midwifery vacancies, the current budgeted staffing levels are often inadequate to meet the unpredictable workload seen in maternity,” she said.
MERAS represents the majority of employed midwives in maternity units and hospitals throughout New Zealand and is affiliated with the New Zealand College of Midwives.
Source: Newstalk ZB