4 July 2023
Te Whatu Ora Workforce Announcement – “Midwives and Midwifery Still Invisible”
College Chief Executive, Alison Eddy, says it’s concerning the plan recognises the midwifery workforce as having the largest relative deficit of all workforces, with a 40% shortage. The profession has long been raising these issues with government and would like to see more detail on the proposed recruitment and retention activities.
“Our view is that the plan has not identified all of the reasons behind the current shortfall and thus it has missed some key solutions, particularly for the community workforce. We hope that the government and policy makers will engage with the College before it takes further steps to implement its plan,” says Ms Eddy.
The College says proposed actions include changing the threshold for enabling overseas qualified midwives to work in New Zealand and looking at the introduction of midwifery assistant roles. “Whilst these may seem like attractive “quick fixes” we must be mindful that short-term solutions don’t erode the quality of maternity care or divert resources from retention activities,” she says. “We need urgent investment to demonstrate that midwifery is an attractive and valued profession, by creating the working conditions which enable us to retain qualified midwives in our communities and hospitals.”
The Te Whatu Ora plan includes a temporary boost to midwifery student intake numbers, to grow the workforce in the medium to long term and the College recognises the importance of this strategy however is seeking assurance that students will be set up to succeed.
The College says this will require major investment in the tertiary education and health sectors to support academic staff retention and student placements, as well as improved visibility of midwifery as a career option and pathways to study so that students are educationally prepared for the degree programme.
“In spite of our reservations, it’s pleasing to see the inclusion of a number of strategies which we fully support. For example, we welcome the emphasis on student retention in the undergraduate midwifery programme including “earn-as-you-learn” options for midwifery students; investing in midwifery leadership, and focusing on return to practice. We are hopeful that the reference to “ensuring financial pressures aren’t a source of attrition in our midwifery workforce” signals the government’s commitment to implementing fair and reasonable pay for all midwives, in recognition of the value and expertise they bring to the health service,” says Ms Eddy.
For more information please contact Ali Jones on 0272473112