19 Oct 2021

College of Midwives joins call for pregnant women to be allocated MIQ spots

7:24 am on 19 October 2021

The New Zealand College of Midwives believes women's health is being sidelined by the MIQ booking system.

Cropped image of a midwife measuring blood pressure of a pregnant woman

File photo. Photo: 123RF

It's joined calls for expectant parents to have easier access to bookings - and said midwives urgently need allocations as well.

Last week RNZ reported expectant couples, trying to reunite before their baby arrives, were getting caught up in the MIQ booking bottleneck.

New Zealand College of Midwives Chief Executive Alison Eddy said it was extraordinary there was not already an emergency allocation category for pregnant women or their partners.

"Policies that remove support for women during pregnancy, birth and in the postnatal period are inherently risky," she said.

She said all efforts need to be made to ensure that the situation was remedied as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, midwifery adviser Claire MacDonald said she knew of two midwives who left the country earlier this year, and were now stuck overseas unable to get a spot in MIQ.

Because they were coming back for existing positions, rather than starting a new job, she said they couldn't get priority access - and had to compete in the MIQ booking lottery instead.

No caption

Alison Eddy. Photo: supplied

"We've got a situation in New Zealand where we've got an incredibly stretched health workforce. We believe that any health worker - who is coming to New Zealand to take up a new post in health or who is returning to an existing job - must be given priority in MIQ," she said.

Earlier the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment said people could be eligible for emergency allocation in MIQ if they can prove they're travelling to provide critical care for a dependent person, and that no one else can provide that 'critical care'.

But meeting that criteria still doesn't guarantee a spot, it explained in a statement, because "it depends on the numbers of applicants and available places".

"These decisions are not easy ones to make and we are sympathetic to the distressing situations people applying for an emergency allocation are in. However, we need to balance each individual application with our critical work to ensure the safety of all New Zealanders and the limited available capacity in managed isolation facilities by sequencing beds as they become available."

"MIQ also needs to prioritise the applications to ensure they reflect the most urgent and time-critical situations."

Green Party MP Julie Ann Genter has written to Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins asking him to consider a special allocation for pregnant couples.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs