Updates on work with the maternity services sector

Information for midwives on the work the Ministry is undertaking in the maternity sector. This includes updates on the co-design process, midwifery funding and the mediation with New Zealand College of Midwives.

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June 2019

Whole of maternity update

Letter to the sector from Keriana Brooking, Deputy Director-General, Health System Improvement and Innovation.

General update

Child wellbeing remains a high priority for the Ministry of Health (the Ministry), and universal health services, including maternity services, play a critical role in supporting and improving outcomes for women, babies and children.

Budget 2019 reflects the Ministry’s ongoing support of commitments made last year to facilitate change that will improve the financial situation for midwives. We recognise there is much work to do, and we are working to make improvements consistently and over a period of years.

There is a commitment to continuing work to improve the maternity system in New Zealand and the Ministry will be presenting information to Government this year to inform the 2020 budget.

From the 2018 budget, the Ministry worked with the New Zealand College of Midwives (the College) and providers to deliver on a number of benefits for midwives, including uplift in fees, supporting the work of second midwives, and the Business Contribution Payment as a part contribution to the cost of being self-employed.  

$5 million is remaining from the Business Contribution fund and the Ministry is working on options to ensure this funding is applied in 2019 to recognise the cost of community midwives being in business.

The initiatives announced in Budget 2019 that will assist in building midwifery capacity and strengthening the workforce are:

  • $7.425 million per year to allow a fee uplift to Lead Maternity Carers and Non-Lead Maternity Carers for the services they provide to women and infants. This is a fee uplift of 4.93 percent, which compliments the 8.9 percent uplift for Lead Maternity Carers in the 2018/19 year.
  • $4.563 million of new funding for overall rural and regional workforce training and development. $500,000 per annum from the $4,563 million will boost the locum support provided for rural midwives and will enable rural midwives to better access and plan for educational training days and annual leave.
  • $10 million across four years for overall Māori health workforce development. A portion of this investment will provide wraparound support for Māori student nurses and midwives, and support Māori to progress into specialised professions such as midwifery.
  • $4.335 million over four years for a wraparound support programme for Pacific students who would like to gain a nursing or midwifery undergraduate degree. This will significantly reduce financial and other barriers faced by Pacific students who would like to complete undergraduate midwifery degrees. Increasing the number of Pacific midwives will strengthen culturally appropriate services for Pacific mothers and babies.

The Minister of Health has now approved a further amendment to the Primary Maternity Services Notice 2007 that will take effect from 1 July 2019. The Primary Maternity Services Amendment Notice 2019 will implement increases to the fees for all modules of care with the exception of those for specialist services. More details on changes can be found at Primary Maternity Services Notice 2007.


January 2019

In May 2017 the Ministry of Health (Ministry) and the New Zealand College of Midwives (the College) reached an agreement to settle the College’s application for judicial review alleging discrimination against midwives based on gender.

As part of the agreement reached in May 2017, the Ministry and the College agreed to a process for the co-design of a new model for the funding and contracting of community Lead Maternity Carer midwives. The Ministry also agreed to prepare a bid for the 2018 Budget that reflected the findings of the Co-design report and job evaluation process.

While the Co-design process proceeded as agreed, the Ministry did not prepare a Budget bid that reflected the findings of the Co-design process. Accordingly, the Ministry acknowledges that it breached the May 2017 agreement that it had reached with the College.

Representatives of the Ministry and the College met in mediation on 14 December 2018. As a result of that mediation, the Ministry and the College have reached further agreement. Some, but not all, of the matters agreed are recorded in this statement.

The Ministry apologises to the College and its members for breaching the May 2017 Settlement Agreement. Having expressly and formally agreed to do so, the Ministry did not prepare a Budget bid reflecting Co-design. The Ministry acknowledges that its breach was through no fault of the College.

The Ministry has reaffirmed its commitment to the Co-design principles, including a Blended Payment Model for LMC midwives. The Ministry has also reiterated its support for the continuity of midwifery model of care as central to maternity services in New Zealand. 

The Ministry has agreed to a process to ensure a ‘fair and reasonable’ service price for LMC midwives. The College and the Ministry will work on this together throughout 2019.

The Ministry and the College have agreed to work together in early 2019 on structural changes to the way LMC midwives are funded and contracted.

The Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, reiterates that strengthening and stabilising maternity services is a priority for the Ministry. The Ministry and the College have renewed their commitment to work together in good faith.

October 2018

Co-Design

The Ministry and the College of Midwives met in September and agreed to a number of recommendations from the co-design process. The co-design documents are available to view on this page.

This work includes agreeing the following principles when developing any new Maternity system which is a fundamental part of the Government's priority for child wellbeing.

  • Primary maternity care will continue to be free to all eligible women.
  • The midwifery led model of continuity of care will be maintained.
  • The right for community midwives to choose self-employment will remain under any new contract arrangements.
  • A National Community Midwifery Organisation will be developed.
  • A national primary midwifery contract will be developed as an alternative to Section 88.
  • The new contract will protect, strengthen and integrate the existing model of care, and will include a regular review clause, thus affording community midwives the right to regular renegotiation of the terms and conditions of the contract.
  • The on call and 'self-employed' nature of community midwifery will be accounted for in the new funding framework to enable flexible service delivery based on individual need.

Breastfeeding

  • Work is underway to develop a revised national strategy for breastfeeding as a cornerstone for child wellbeing.
  • The Ministry is undertaking this work in partnership with the New Zealand Breastfeeding Alliance (NZBA), who will govern its progression with an aim to deliver a new strategy in 2019.
  • The NZBA is also revising the baby friendly hospital initiative (BFHI) to better align with community based provision of breastfeeding education and support.

Ultrasound

  • Work is underway on the first recommendation of the Maternity Ultrasound Advisory Group (MUAG), which is the development of national quality standards and guidance for primary maternity ultrasound.  
  • The first phase is development of universal guidelines to support radiology and sonography professionals to deliver nationally consistent and high quality maternity ultrasound screening services.  
  • A clinical expert working group is developing the guidelines and are making good progress.
  • The guidelines will be circulated for consultation before year end.  
  • It is anticipated the guidelines will be completed beginning of 2019.
  • The guidelines will form the basis of work regarding commissioning of primary maternity ultrasounds.

The next update at the end of October will provide further information on how a new sector maternity oversight group will be established, and how it will work with an 'all of systems' approach.

August 2018

The Ministry and NZCOM Co-design Project: 21 August 2018

The Ministry of Health thanks the NZCOM staff, Ministry staff, community midwives and women involved in a project to co-design a new community primary midwifery funding model.  Recommendations were delivered to the Ministry in December 2017. 

The outputs of the project are not government policy but are informing future service models for wider maternity care.

Maternity and midwifery workforce is a priority for the Ministry. A whole of sector approach is in place to deliver more equitable, high quality and sustainable maternity care through a broad maternity work programme.

Agreement on second midwife funding: 3 August 2018

The Ministry of Health has reached agreement with the New Zealand College of Midwives on terms and conditions for which funding for second midwives can be claimed, where required, to support community midwifery practice.

A definition of the scope of second midwife services during labour and birth and how payment for these can be claimed will be communicated directly to the sector by 31 August, and will also be available on this website.

Claims for payment for second midwife services within the scope of this definition will be able to be submitted for payment from 17 September 2018, for services delivered from 1 July 2018.

May 2018

April 2018

Maternity services: update April 2018

The Ministry of Health and the New Zealand College of Midwives are working together with urgency on a maternity programme designed to address current pressure on the midwifery-led service.

Acting Director-General Stephen McKernan acknowledges collaboration over the last month between the College and Ministry officials has resulted in a positive way forward.

“Addressing workforce shortages and collaborating on a maternity programme that delivers a sustainable midwifery model of care has guided discussions.

“The Ministry has taken on board advice from the College to include elements of the co-design process.

“As a result the Ministry has agreed to develop a Memorandum of Understanding with the College to improve ongoing collaboration on the maternity work programme,” says Mr McKernan.

New Zealand College of Midwives, Chief Executive Karen Guilliland says women, their babies and families need improved access to safe, integrated, high quality services.

“The College and the Ministry agree a midwifery continuity of care model must be resourced effectively to provide support during pregnancy, labour and birth and through the postnatal period until the baby is six week old.

“I am also pleased that the issues raised by the current workforce shortage will be prioritised for resolution; for example, continuing to provide rural primary maternity service provision in all areas,” says Ms Guilliland.

March 2018

Maternity services: update March 2018

Joint statement: New Zealand College of Midwives and Ministry of Health 

Tuesday 14 March 2018

The Acting Director-General of Health, Stephen McKernan, met the Chief Executive of the New Zealand College of Midwives, Karen Guilliland and Deputy Chief Executive, Alison Eddy this morning (14 March) to discuss the co-design process and the Ministry’s response.

Both parties acknowledge the importance of women’s access to and experience of care, and the health and wellbeing of the midwifery workforce.

Chief Executive of the New Zealand College of Midwives, Karen Guilliland says the Ministry of Health is taking the issue seriously and values the relationship with the College.

“We have been working together on the co-design project since May 2017.  The process exposed the current vulnerability of community midwifery services and highlighted that many midwives are finding the workload unsustainable.

“I expressed the urgency needed to support the workforce and I am looking forward to exploring how we do this with the Ministry over the next month,” says Ms Guilliland.

The Acting Director-General of Health agrees the co-design process highlights the urgent need for a sustainable way of working for the community-based midwives.

“The Ministry values the role self-employed midwives bring to maternity care. We will continue to discuss with the College the range of measures required. This will ensure improved access to safe, integrated, high quality services that meet the needs of mother and baby and work better for our midwives in addressing hours of work, workload, income and support,” says Mr McKernan.

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