8 April 2020
Media statement regarding updated Ministry of Health guidance published today on the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in maternity settings.
“We are pleased to note that the document acknowledges that clinicians involved in care, can and will use appropriate clinical judgement on PPE required, and should have access to PPE for all births,” says Alison Eddy, Chief Executive of the New Zealand College of Midwives.
The updated questions to ask women on initial contact (included in the “Guidelines for the use of Personal Protective Equipment for frontline health care workers” published yesterday by the Ministry), will also assist midwives to assess the risk factors and determine whether they need to wear PPE. Physical distancing is not always possible so the use of PPE is necessary in situations where midwives need to protect themselves from possible Covid-19 exposure.
Midwives work within hospitals and throughout the community and take seriously their responsibility to keep women and babies they provide care to as safe as possible. Using PPE when required is one way in which they do this.
The College believes that the Ministry of Health and District Health Boards have a responsibility to ensure sufficient supply and distribution of PPE to midwives, and that midwives have a right to access PPE as they feel they need to protect the women they are caring for and themselves.
As the profession which provides care across pregnancy, labour and birth and the postnatal period, only midwives fully understand the risks of exposure to droplets and surfaces that may be contaminated during the care they provide.
“We have held extensive discussions with the Ministry on these issues,” says Ms Eddy, “and while we acknowledge the Ministry’s position, we support our midwives to make the correct clinical decisions about when to use PPE, or not. We believe midwives are well equipped to make the right decisions for themselves and the women they are caring for.”
The updated guidance is here https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-novel-coronavirus-information-specific-audiences/covid-19-advice-essential-workers-including-personal-protective-equipment/personal-protective-equipment-use-health-care
Contact: Maria Scott 021 329 405 or Ali Jones 027 247 3112 (Ali is unavailable between 3.30pm and 5pm today). All the latest information for women and midwives is here https://www.midwife.org.nz/midwives/covid-19/