College of GPs welcomes announcement of improved maternity health outcomes

29 September 2021

Yesterday’s announcement to improve women’s health equity through improved maternity services and ACC legislation amendments for childbirth injuries is welcomed by The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners.

College President Dr Samantha Murton says, "Antenatal and postnatal care is such an important part of women’s health. Pregnancy comes with both joys and concerns for women and their whānau, and can come with unique health concerns. General practitioners are involved at the beginning and end of pregnancy, and ongoing health issues post-delivery become part of our mahi.

"It is vital there is a seamless exchange of information between GPs and midwives, and that all health professionals involved in a woman’s care have access to all the relevant information to ensure appropriate medical care continues throughout a woman’s maternity journey.

"The College and the New Zealand College of Midwives are working together with the Ministry of Health to explore how we can develop communication systems to enable provision of collaborative, consistent, equitable care to women and their babies."

In the announcement, ACC Minister Carmel Sepuloni highlighted that 85 percent of women experience an injury during childbirth. By amending the ACC legislation to cover more injuries she estimates that an additional 17-18,000 women per year will be able to receive cover, in particular having more timely access to surgeries and pelvic physiotherapy.

The College’s Medical Director Dr Bryan Betty says, "Injuries sustained during childbirth, no matter how minor, can cause unnecessary physical and mental distress if left untreated. These improvements, including to the maternal mental health services, will go a long way in ensuring fair and equitable care is available for all who need it."

The Accident Compensation (Maternal Birth Injury and Other Matters) Amendment Bill, which will also include a reversal of the changes made in 2010, will be introduced to Parliament later this year, and there will be the opportunity to provide feedback on the changes during the Select Committee process in early 2022.