Govt has acted on concerns of midwives, Clark says

David Clark
David Clark
Community midwives received a long-awaited pay rise in yesterday's Budget.

An immediate cash injection of $9 million this financial year will be followed by $103.6 million of new operating funding for the next four years for community midwifery services.

Health Minister David Clark said about half of that funding would go towards an 8.9% "catch-up" increase in fees for more than 1400 lead maternity carers.

"We have been listening to the concerns of midwives, who feel undervalued and under supported," Dr Clark said.

However, Queenstown midwife Sharon White was unimpressed, calling the increase laughable.

"They're already underfunding maternity and they're only going to give us that amount increase? We need a 50% Budget increase."

Ms White said without pay equity, four of Queenstown's seven midwives would likely quit, including herself.

Yesterday's package also included $16 million funding for midwives who call on colleagues to take over care during a lengthy labour - a cost they currently fund from their own pockets.

National health spokesman Michael Woodhouse said community midwives had done well out of the Budget, although the increases were not large.

However, he was concerned the package might raise pay expectations for others.

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