Midwives hope deal will reverse staff shortage

Midwives hope to see a lift in morale among their peers now that key issues are being sorted.

An accord will be signed today to help ensure safe and sustainable staffing levels. It's part of a new collective agreement, which includes pay rises of 17.5 percent by August next year.

Midwife Michelle Archer says it's been a long time coming.

"We've seen midwives leave the profession, which is really sad. It's really nice to finally be recognised and hopefully have colleagues stay in the profession that they love."

The accord will be signed by unions representing midwives, district health boards and the Ministry of Health.

"The midwifery workforce has been in crisis," said Archer. "I've been a midwife for 17 years, and never noticed the shortage of midwives that we've got at the moment. We have had a lot of midwives leave and the workload of midwives increase. If we can really look at those issues, it would be great to try and rectify them."

Health Minister David Clark will host the signing, which follows Friday's pay settlement for midwives employed by DHBs.

The accord follows two years of industrial action by midwives. Previously they had to "just roll over" and take the same deal nurses got, MERAS union spokesperson Jill Ovens told The AM Show in November, despite having far greater responsibilities, in their view.

The new rates

From August next year, most members of the union MERAS will be on $78,353 a year, up from $66,755.

Graduates will now start on $59,222 a year, up from $49,449.

Documents obtained by Newshub in September showed advice to Health Minister David Clark showed a "fair and reasonable remuneration for the work of a community midwife" would be worth $241,000 annually - more than three times what the average midwife makes.

The same report, compiled by the Ministry of Health and the New Zealand College of Midwives, recommended against giving midwives the astronomical pay boost because it would be unaffordable.