Rural women's group welcomes new Midwifery Workforce Accord

There is cautious optimism from a group representing rural women over the new Midwifery Workforce Accord.

The accord has been signed by the midwives' unions, DHBs and Ministry of Health 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.

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) Spokesperson on Health Portfolio,  Margaret Pittaway said the organisation had consistently promoted improved resourcing for midwives, particularly in rural areas.

"As the New Zealand birth rate increases, the number of midwives and full-time equivalents has been steadily shrinking since 2010," she said.

She said rural communities are heavily impacted by this workforce shortage because core midwives and LMCs provide the majority of services to rural mothers and babies.

"Yet, rural midwives are burdened with excessive workloads, limited access to maternity centres and high travel times and costs," said Pittaway.

"RWNZ hopes that the details of this Accord will ensure that all parties involved work together to develop specific strategies to support midwives working in rural areas.

It is vital to the health of our rural communities that the Midwifery Workforce Accord is 'rural proofed'."