News > MERAS letter to members

MERAS letter to members

MERAS members

You will already be aware of the Otago Midwifery Research and the resulting furor in the media last week. You would have already received an email from the College of Midwives putting the research into context for the midwifery profession in New Zealand.

It is also important to highlight this media storm from the perspective of employed midwives, the majority of whom work within DHB’s. These midwives, MERAS members, are increasingly under work pressure to do more; quite often with a workforce that does not have adequate levels of staffing, particularly within the five big Tertiary hospitals. These hospitals provide the all-important back up and emergency services that general hospital A&Es do for all other health services.

The woman centered midwifery model of care works so long as staffing within DHB’s is kept at levels that enable that part of the midwifery workforce to be resourced to undertake the secondary and tertiary care. Current levels of staffing put pressure on this.

Some of the current midwifery shortfall is hidden because hospitals are using registered nurses to fill the vacancies. On some wards we are now seeing as few as one midwife per shift. This brings its own challenges for midwives and has an influence on the outcomes for the midwifery model of care. MERAS is working closely with those maternity services to identify ways to attract more midwives to those wards. As most midwives now work part-time, creating the work environment and culture where midwives are willing to work, a higher ratio of midwife to woman on every shift (FTE) is a priority. MERAS is actively engaged in a working party with DHB’s seeking an answer to how we achieve this from the union’s perspective of workforce sustainability.

In a recent survey of our members’ midwives were quite clear that the most important action that could be taken by DHB’s was to recruit to the full FTE establishment. Putting in context what now seems to be an annual media storm directed at midwives, it is important to recognise that midwives are respected, trusted and valued by the families they come into contact with every day.

Next week MERAS representatives from around New Zealand will be meeting to discuss how MERAS can continue to support you and work with you over the next 12 months.

Bernard McIlhone, Caroline Conroy and Bronwyn Drysdale