The Government’s announcement of adding clinical coaching and funding returning nurses through their retraining won’t fix the industry’s shortages.
Those working in the sector continue to leave for greener pastures, including across the ditch to Australia where their salary in some cases triples.
“What we need is a strong, more tangible commitment to pay and working conditions, not a clinical coach,” midwife Sarah Gilbertson told 1 NEWS.
The Midwifery Employee Representation & Advisory Service, New Zealand’s only midwife union, has been balloting members to see if further strike action is wanted by members.
Dr Ayesha Verrall, Associate Health Minister, revealed the two sector initiatives today to a room of those in the profession.
Clinical coaches will be more senior midwifes who will provide support to new graduates, those returning to the job, and anyone else who requires help.
There’ll be one clinical coach per DHB, raising concerns they’ll end up swamped.
Verrall was unable to say how many midwives each clinical coach would be responsible for.
“The reality is, we know that a clinical coach will most likely be pulled on to a shift and working, to cover the gaps that are there,” Gilberston said.
Jill Ovens, from the industry’s union, told 1 NEWS four workplace representatives had left in the last two weeks for better working conditions.
“Two went to Australia, one of those is nearing retirement so she wants to get a decent amount of pay and superannuation, then we’ve got a lovely, young, Māori midwife whose gone to work at a ski field, and another one whose become a Covid vaccinator. We’re so understaffed, overworked, undervalued,” she said.
Expectant mother Hannah Logan knows the struggle of trying to find a midwife.
She’s on her third pregnancy, and said this time round she had to plead with someone to take her on.
“I had limited options and the midwife I have now made an exception to take me because I was out of her of area. I feel really worried for those women who can’t find someone.”
She said midwifes don’t get the recognition they deserve for being the person to lead new mums into “something so unknown” while bringing real ease and comfort.
“I am grateful for everything that midwives here in New Zealand do and I really hope their pay does increase because they do a fantastic job and they should be valued by that.”
Also announced today was funding for those returning to the workforce.
The Government is putting up the cash for up to 40 midwives to retrain within a year, which will increase to 60 after that.