Midwifery sector in 'crisis' - Wellington community midwife

Source: 1News

A Wellington midwife says one expectant mum approached 17 other midwives before she was able to secure one.

Community midwife Suzi Hume told Breakfast she was the only midwife who was able to book the expectant mum in. She was only six weeks along when she contacted Hume last week.

"Had she been due in December or January, she would not have got a midwife over that Christmas period," Hume said.

She explained in the last several years midwives had reached "rock bottom" in terms of how much more they could give during the holiday period.

"It breaks our hearts that we [community midwives] can't provide that whole consistent care throughout the year."

Hume said midwives in hospitals are "running", while community midwives are "all go" from 8am to 8pm or longer.

She described the midwifery sector as being in "crisis" and said around 200 to 300 more midwives are needed around the country.

Hume told Breakfast the crisis didn't happen overnight and the Ministry of Health and successive governments had made promises, but nothing had really changed.

Generic photo of a baby

She remarked there had been agreement around the table but there had been no follow through from authorities on solutions.

Possible solutions include a community-based organisation for midwives - like what GPs have with primary health organisations, better support for students and new graduates, and more migrant nurses, Hume said.

READ MORE: Kiwi midwife heads to Australia for triple the pay, better work conditions

"We could take some of those barriers away."

The National party is currently running a campaign to try and get migrant nurses and midwives a fast-tracked pathway to residency.

In 2021 the Government launched $6 million initiative Te ara ō Hine – Tapu ora to support and increase Māori and Pasifika midwifery students.

Also last year, the Government said it wanted to give midwives who need support access to an experienced DHB midwife, who would act as a coach and provide both clinical and wider support.

It allocated $5 million over three years for the initiative, coming from $35 million set aside for the maternity action plan.

1News will have more on the midwife crisis at 6pm.