Is it too late to bring back doctors?

The NZ Councils of Midwives says midwifery is in crisis:

Midwives are appealing to the new Government to act urgently to deal with the unfolding crisis in New Zealand’s midwifery workforce.

The New Zealand College of Midwives warned the previous Government over many years that pay for community midwives was failing to keep pace with inflation and the level of work required of midwives. Meanwhile, under-resourcing – leading to chronic under-staffing – was undermining the morale of midwives working in our hospitals and maternity units.

“We are hearing an increasing number of stories from around the country of severe shortages as midwives continue to leave the profession,” says Karen Guilliland, Chief Executive of the New Zealand College of Midwives. “We can now see a pattern confirming that this is a service in crisis”, she says.

Mrs Guilliland says this is the result of years of under-funding in New Zealand’s maternity service however the College is heartened that the new Government has decided to enter negotiations to ensure pay equity for mental health support workers, which, like midwifery is a mainly female workforce.

“The College began fighting for pay equity for midwives three years ago when we began court action under the previous Government. This action led to an agreement between the College and the Ministry of Health to design a new funding model for community-based (LMC) midwives. We have presented our recommendations to the Ministry’s leadership team and the new Minister of Health. At this stage, we have no certainty that the recommendations from the co-design will be accepted, or funded,” she says

Mrs Guilliland is urging the new Government to reassure midwives that they will not be disappointed.

“The College is increasingly concerned that every day we wait, the sustainability of the midwifery profession continues to be negatively affected and this in turn has a significant impact on women’s access to maternity services. More and more women will be unable to find a midwife if this crisis is not urgently addressed.”

Mrs Guilliland says the new Government has an opportunity to resolve this and the College and its members cannot highlight the urgency of this situation enough.

“We need the Ministry and the Minister to act immediately,” she says.

The ODT covers the situation in Wanaka here and here.

Low pay and long hours is part of the problem.

Another part few if any midwives will talk about is the changes that drove general practitioners from obstetrics, adding to the load placed on midwives and risks for women and babies.

An Otago university study found babies are more at risk during birth if a midwife rather than a doctor is in charge.

Bad outcomes for new babies are more likely when a mother’s chosen maternity carer is a midwife, as opposed to a medical specialist, research shows. 

The University of Otago research project examined major adverse perinatal outcomes of 240,000 babies born between 2008 and 2012. 

It found that babies were less likely to encounter problems during and after giving birth, when their mother’s carer was a specialist obstetrician or general practitioner. . .

The changes were driven by the feminist movements insistence that birth is a natural process.

It is, but so is death and you only have to look at the number of women and babies in old cemeteries to see what used to happen when birth was predominantly left to midwives.

Midwifery practices are very different now from how they were then, but there still ought to be a bigger role for doctors, not just specialists but GP obstetricians, in the birthing process.

Is it too late to bring doctors back to births?

2 Responses to Is it too late to bring back doctors?

  1. Paranormal says:

    You are spot on pointing out its the feminist movement that drove doctors away from obstetrics. I believe there will be a continuing feminist politically correct culture that is contributing to those leaving midwifery.

    Sixteen years ago the feminist movement was pushing midwives really hard. I’m pleased we chose a specialist over a midwife. If we hadn’t I would have lost both my wife and first child with the complications at birth.


  2. macdoctor01 says:

    Yes, far too late. Most GPs have now lost all of their maternity skills and would certainly not be willing to put in the hard yards retraining – given that we got out of delivering babies because the government refused to compensate GPs adequately, preferring to purchase maternity services through the cheaper midwives. And now even the midwives are complaining about their remuneration so clearly the government is not going to start paying GPs properly!

    It takes a GP around 3 years of study to do the post graduate diploma in Obstetrics. For this we were rewarded with a government boot. It will be a cold day in hell before GPs do obstetrics again.

    PS Yes, we were very peeved about it…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: