Midwives march across New Zealand

May 4, 2018

Midwives march across New Zealand

Midwives are asking 'why has it come to this?'

Midwives across New Zealand have come together to take action against their pay and work conditions; something that many are calling a crisis.

Beatle Treadwell, a practising midwife at Auckland Hospital, says midwives work incredible hours, often without a lunch break or even time to go to the toilet.

“I’ve worked in a rural community where I couldn’t get any cover, so I was on call 24/7, 365 days a year. I missed children’s birthdays, I missed Christmas, and it’s just not good enough. Nobody else would work in these conditions.”

Event organisers say it’s getting difficult for midwives to pay their rent and feed their families.

“We need more money to provide the expert care that mothers in New Zealand deserve.”

The New Zealand College of Midwives has backed the action, calculating the average wage for a skilled rural midwife is approximately $7.23 an hour.

The NZCM says women, their babies and families need improved access to safe, integrated, high quality services.

The marches have stemmed from the Dear David Clark campaign; a movement started on Facebook after practising midwife Emma Otsuki took to social media to air her frustration at the industry’s lack of support.

The campaign is a plea for Health Minister David Clark to boost the sector’s funding.

Many have taken to the cause’s Facebook page to post personal stories; one anonymous student writing they’re worried they’ve wasted three years of their life training for something that may not pay off their student loan.

Health Minister David Clark has blamed the poor conditions on the National government, saying they left the health and midwifery sector in a mess, prioritising tax cuts over health.

“Too many of our midwives are stretched beyond capacity… This is not just a pay issue. There is more work to be done looking at hours of work, caseloads and how midwives can work more closely with the wider Primary Care sector.”

Mr Clark says there will be a package to start addressing the issues facing midwives in the Budget later this month.

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