Ministry of Health apologises after giving midwives no warning to put in last pay claims for 2021

The Ministry of Health has apologised for giving more than 1000 midwives the fright of their lives.

Some midwives were looking at choosing between paying the bills and buying Christmas presents after a payroll stuff up.

Baby Sadie was born last Christmas Eve and was helped into the world by a midwife working through the holiday.

"Babies come whenever they want and families need our help whenever they want," midwife Naomi Siddall told Newshub.

But on Thursday, midwives were left worrying whether they can even afford Christmas this year after an email from the ministry told them they had to send in their pay invoices by 3:30pm on Wednesday, an email they received at 4pm, so the deadline had already passed.

Otherwise, they would not be paid until mid-January.

"Many of us live pay to pay," Siddall said. "That's the reality for a lot of New Zealanders at the moment. So they were expecting to put a claim through and now they are choosing between buying presents and paying the bills."

There's already fury in the profession - strikes over pay disputes, understaffing and a heavy COVID workload have midwives under stress.

"Midwives are leaving in droves, and it's off the back of this increased workload and this disrespect we're having from these entities that are supposed to be supporting us," Siddall said.

Alison Eddy from the New Zealand College of Midwives went into bat immediately for the 1300 affected midwives, slamming the Ministry of Health for their mistake.

"Very frustrated. very undervalued and very annoyed, would be a mild way of putting it," Eddy told Newshub.

On Thursday afternoon, the Ministry of Health apologised to the midwives in a statement to Newshub.

The Ministry said they incorrectly told midwives the wrong cut-off date and will give them until Friday to get their pay claims in.

It's an error that took them 20 hours to correct but a Christmas delivery no midwife asked for.