College of Midwives says Aussie midwives are not the answer to shortage

Long Lunch 21/03/2018
Photo: Getty

The Ministry of Health has announced that it will bring new graduate midwives from Australia across the ditch to help with the midwife shortage in New Zealand.

But the chief executive of New Zealand College of Midwives has criticised the move, arguing that the Australian midwives are inexperienced and take funding away from urgent services.

“They’re not experienced,” chief executive Karen Guilliland told Wendyl Nissen.

Ms Guilliland clarifies that the issue is not that the midwives are Australian.

She told RadioLIVE that the money used to support the Australian midwives comes from the funding for New Zealand new graduates.

That funding is also intended to go towards helping with urgent matters across both rural and urban New Zealand.

That’s taxpayer money we’re using for that.

The money used to support these Australian midwives comes from the New Zealand new graduates funding that was tagged to go towards helping the urgent or crisis matters.

“It just seems quite odd,” she commented.

The 26 new midwives, who will be offered free on-the-job training, are expected to begin work in July.

Ms Guilliland pointed out when the NZ College of Midwives had previously suggested funding go towards Māori midwives, their request was denied.

The chief executive said that the National-led Government was told about the midwife shortage time and time again, but failed to do anything about it.

“This sort of sticking plaster approach is just going to exacerbate our problem.”

She said that if New Zealand wants local midwives, then the country needs to pay for them and look after them.

Health Minister David Clark said that he knows many midwives in New Zealand are feeling under pressure and want more support.

Dr Clark has requested that Ministry of Health look at what can be done to address the shortage both in the short and longer term.

Listen to the full interview with Karen Guilliland above. 

The Long Lunch with Wendyl Nissen, 12pm - 3pm on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.