Midwives are welcoming more ACC coverage for maternal birth injuries, but the industry says it is baffled by the news that the government’s Maternity Action Plan has also been updated, saying it has been kept secret. for two years.
The proposed changes announced today will make up to 18,000 women a year who sustain birth injuries eligible for ACC coverage.
Deputy Health Minister Ayesha Verrall also announced an updated Maternity Action Plan, from the Ministry of Health, which will improve maternal mental health services and focus on maternity care for underserved groups such as the Maori and Pasifika.
New Zealand College of Midwives Executive Director Alison Eddy welcomed both announcements and said expanded coverage for birth injuries was much needed.
But she said the sector had not been able to see the completed Maternity Action Plan since it was first consulted about it in 2019.
“Minister Verrall has asked that the ministry reorient itself more around some of the government’s most strategic priorities, particularly around inequalities. I think there are several things there, but the sector is very interested in seeing the document because we understand It’s been in place for a couple of years, and we haven’t actually seen a copy officially.
“It’s a bit strange”.
The College had not been consulted on the updated plan, Eddy said.
Verrall has been contacted for comment.
In a statement today, she said the plan was being updated as part of the government’s commitment and compliance to improve well-being and safety during pregnancy.
“The 2020 budget saw a significant increase in funding for the maternity sector with another $ 180 million in new spending. That included $ 35 million to advance Maternity Action Plan initiatives and provide high-quality maternity services. , safe and fair for all, “Verrall said.
“Progress so far includes steps to strengthen maternity safety and quality programs at each district health board, changes in the way midwives working in the community are funded, and the introduction of clinical counselors to provide support. additional to DHB midwives.
“But there is more to be done. Work is being done to improve maternal mental health services, including developing a grieving pathway to better support whānau experiencing the loss of a baby.”
“For too long the system has not worked for Maori, Pasifika and those with complex clinical or social needs. We have refocused the Maternity Action Plan, to build on what has been achieved, while addressing the inequalities that persist in the system.
“This new approach will ensure that as we prepare for health system reforms, our maternity services better meet Crown Te Tiriti or Waitangi obligations and provide equitable outcomes for Whānau Maori, Pacific peoples and other disadvantaged populations. “Ayesha Verrall said.
Eddy fully supported the changes in ACC to allow greater coverage for maternal birth injuries. “It is really gratifying to see that the minister and the government have listened to the comments from the sector.”
“We are very pleased to see that our comments, along with those of many others in the industry, were taken seriously and ACC’s approach to this category will be reviewed. In our opinion, all institutions operating within the healthcare sector they have a responsibility to ensure that barriers to health care are lowered, and maternity care should be no exception. “
“While serious birth-related injuries affect only a very small percentage of wāhine in Aotearoa, the trauma extends beyond the physical, and these wāhine / whānau need support to easily access services that will allow the most route. cuts to recovery The extension of the ACC Coverage to include a broader and less serious range of birth-related injuries means that the Wāhine no longer need to waste time and energy fighting the system to get the care they deserve. “
ACC National Party spokesman Simon Watts agreed the changes were “sensible.”
“We are pleased to see that they have done the sensible thing to cover these injuries. Birth injuries affect many women, between 17,000 and 18,000 a year, and that can be debilitating. They should be able to expect to cover the ACC when you are injured like any other New Zealander. “.
My Birth Story founder Kate Hicks, who runs a charity that provides information on birth trauma, said the changes would help many women, but she wanted all birth trauma covered.
“We need to guarantee care for all injuries and, in particular, psychological trauma that arise from childbirth. Taking care of the body, but not the mind, is only a half-won battle.”