Midwives Striking and DHB Game Playing

Statement from the NZ College of Midwives. To be attributed to Chief Executive, Karen Guilliland.

The New Zealand College of Midwives is extremely disappointed in the actions of the Bay of Plenty DHB demanding more midwives work during the daily two hour strike periods, than would normally be required.

The BoP DHB says the numbers are needed to provide Life Preserving Services (LPS) and yet this DHB does not require that same number of midwives on the same shifts outside strike periods.  As there is not the number of midwives available to work those two hours, this DHB is essentially removing the midwives’ legal right to strike. Midwives are striking to address concerns about better midwifery resourcing to ensure the safety of our women and babies – and yet this and some other DHBs continue to play a game with that safety.

Striking is a last-ditch attempt to get DHBs to understand that maternity hospitals are the emergency department for maternity services. Hospital Midwives triage and provide the acute and emergency service for women and babies and this must always be staffed appropriately to be effective. The New Zealand College of Midwives remains confident that midwives were providing LPS during the rolling strikes.

The whole point of the midwives’ strike action is to point out to all of the DHBs that the current staffing ratios are not safe. The BoP DHB, by its actions, now seems to be agreeing that they need more midwives than they usually have on duty each shift if safety is to be achieved.

The College strongly encourages the DHBs to address MERAS’s concerns, and support and talk to their midwives to find resolution. Appropriate funding of our maternity services and improved pay and conditions for midwives will ensure our world-leading maternity service continues to be able to deliver the excellent outcomes it does for our women and babies.