Maternity services ‘on low priority’

NZ Herald Oct 10, 2008

Maternity services have been given low priority in New Zealand’s health system, a review has found. Professor Peter Stone, an Auckland University expert in maternal fetal medicine, was one of four people appointed to review Wellington’s maternity services following the death of a baby in June at the Kenepuru Hospital maternity unit. Their review, commissioned by the Health Ministry, found the region’s maternity services were as safe as those elsewhere in New Zealand, but problems existed in Wellington, such as a shortage of midwives and obstetricians.

Their report, issued yesterday, also commented on maternity services nationally. “Maternity services in New Zealand have been accorded a relatively low priority and there is no national strategy for maternity services. A strategic plan is due for release shortly.” The ministry released a draft Maternity Action Plan yesterday and called for public submissions. The draft plan acknowledges that “some women have difficulties accessing maternity services, particularly in rural and provincial areas”.
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