14 Jul 2021

Midwife shortage: Clinical coaches at each DHB to cost $5m - Minister

11:03 am on 14 July 2021

Midwife coaches will be added to each DHB and recertification costs reduced in efforts to bolster a struggling workforce, Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall says.

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Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Verrall said midwives in New Zealand were facing significant challenges with a shrinking workforce and increasing demand.

An experienced midwife at Capital and Coast DHB said in February staff were at breaking point with 17 of the DHB's 61 full-time positions vacant.

A clinical coaching programme costing $5 million over three years would provide for at least one coach to be made available to midwives at each DHB, she said.

"Clinical coaches will stand shoulder to shoulder with midwives on the maternity wards, as they care for the health and medical needs of pregnant and birthing women," she said.

"By providing practical support and further career options, the development of a formal clinical coach role will create a new career pathway for existing midwives, and encourage midwives who have been out of clinical practice to consider a return to midwifery."

The coaches would also provide support to Māori and Pacific student midwives with ongoing learning once in practice.

Verrall said funding would also be added to the Return to Practice programme, with $1600 per midwife provided to reduce recertification costs for up to 40 midwives in the first year and 60 midwives in following years.

The new initiatives were identified by the Midwifery Accord Group with representatives from government, DHBs, and midwifery unions.

The funding for the two programmes comes from the $35m Maternity Action Plan funding.

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