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To: Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister; Hon Andrew Little, Minister of Health; Hon Dr Ayesha Verrall, Associate Minister of Health; Hon Jan Tinetti, Minister for Women; Hon Peeni Henare, Minister of Whānau Ora

Save our maternity sector from crisis

We are calling on the Government to urgently address the maternity crisis in Aotearoa, and to ensure that all pregnant people, parents and babies have the support they need to thrive.

Our maternity sector is in crisis, with major under-staffing and under-resourcing putting lives at risk. A lack of capacity across the country is leaving maternity units unable to care for any more patients, and delaying necessary medical care to people in need. Suicide is the leading cause of maternal death in Aotearoa but our maternal mental health teams are stretched beyond their limits. Glaring gaps across the sector are disproportionately affecting Māori women and babies, who experience ongoing systemic inequality and a lack of access to healthcare. Our maternity sector is disintegrating under strain, and our midwives, doctors and nurses are burning out from over work.

This is a crisis in the true sense of the word and we are calling on the government to act with urgency to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all birthing parents and babies in Aotearoa.

We call on the government to:

- Implement ALL recommendations from the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) 2020 ‘Briefing to Incoming Ministers’ including the development of a collaborative Women’s Health strategy across the Ministry of Health and The Office for Women.

- Implement ALL recommendations as laid out in the 14th Annual Report (Appendices B–F) from the Perinatal Maternal Mortality Review Committee (PMMRC), including all recommendations that create a Tiriti-compliant system where it is safe for Māori women to give birth in Aotearoa.

- Ensure that Māori have equal voice in all decision-making and the development of health policy, process and practice in order to achieve equitable health outcomes.

- Guarantee ongoing funding and strengthen the roles of advisory groups including the National Maternity Monitoring Group (NMMG) and Perinatal Maternal Mortality Review Committee (PMMRC).

- Allocate adequate budget to fill the existing gaps, and to allocate further substantial budget to invest in staff training and retention, pay equity, and capital investment in maternity facilities across regional and rural centres, as well as tertiary hospitals.

- Work with professional unions and representative organisations to understand and address the serious issues facing the sector, including ways to address staff under-resourcing, burnout, retention and remuneration.

- Create sustainable pathways into the maternity workforce, including more supported training for Māori and Pasifika trainee doctors and midwives, specialty pathways for complex care midwifery, and clear frameworks for staff retention across the sector.

- Remove barriers to care for pregnant people by providing financial assistance where required, and by ensuring that all maternity care is free including removing co-pays for scans.

- Engage patient-advocates at all levels of decision making to ensure that changes made at the policy level reflect the need for change at the real-world level.

Why is this important?

Whānau forms the foundation of our society. If we treat all families well and support them to thrive from the get go, our communities will flourish. We need to start investing real money and resources into whānau wellbeing, starting with maternity care.

Over the last 12 months we’ve seen the ability of our government to respond rapidly and decisively to a crisis. We’ve seen them open their purse and pour money into our economy. We know that they’re capable of making big decisions to save lives and keep our communities safe. And now we need to see them step up with that same kind of energy to address the maternity crisis that we are in.

Every pregnant person, parent and baby in Aotearoa deserves the very best care that we can provide as a society. The compassionate and skilled midwives and doctors providing life-changing and life-saving care across Aotearoa deserve to work in conditions where their wellbeing - as well as that of their patients - is protected. Right now we’re not even coming close, but together we have the power to change this. Our government works for us, and it’s our responsibility to join our voices and demand that our government solves this crisis. Not through incremental changes and stop-gap funding, but through a full rebirth of our maternity sector. Thank you for signing this petition.

Further Information:

PMMRC 14th Annual Report (2021)

PMMRC recommendations

RANZCOG commentary on Maternal Mental Health

MERAS 2020 election priorities

Media commentary:

New Zealand

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2021-06-21 20:49:52 +1200

5,000 signatures reached

2021-02-25 16:07:36 +1300

1,000 signatures reached

2021-02-25 11:31:05 +1300

500 signatures reached

2021-02-25 09:05:08 +1300

100 signatures reached

2021-02-25 08:28:18 +1300

50 signatures reached

2021-02-25 07:46:06 +1300

25 signatures reached

2021-02-25 07:25:39 +1300

10 signatures reached