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Maternity services get extra $180 million, midwives in line for pay rises

Rural midwives are in line for as much as a 40 percent pay rise, with the government finally coming to the party with more funding for the sector.

Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter today announced an extra $180 million of funding for maternity services.

Of that, $85 million will be spent to pay midwives working in rural areas, and those caring for people with complex pregnancies, more.

"Previously, midwives supporting women in rural locations or with complex pregnancies were paid a standard rate, even though these women require longer travel times, and extra attention throughout pregnancy, labour and birth, and the postnatal period," Genter said.

"Midwives will now be paid for a broader range of services - specifically providing antenatal home visits to women who need to be seen in their own home, coordinating care across agencies, and supporting families experiencing miscarriage or baby loss."

Genter said some midwives could be in line for a pay rise of between 25 and 40 percent.

Rural midwives have been campaigning for extra pay and recognition of the work they do for some time.

College of Midwives acting chief executive Jacqui Anderson said they should feel vindicated by today's announcement.

"It's not as though this is suddenly new and we've just come up with this, it has actually been a significant issue for a number of years.

Anderson said while the college welcomed the announcement, it was disappointed it had taken so long.

"We don't want to deny that it's marvellous that it's here, but from a midwifery point of view, it has taken a long time."

Helensville midwife Eartha Healy said the lack of funding up to this point has meant people like her haven't always been able to provide the level of care they want.

"There's not enough of us for the amount of women who are birthing in our communities, and so either we can't provide care to the numbers or we spread ourselves thin and try to provide that care, but we can't provide the level of care we want to, because we're spread so thin."

Healy hoped the extra money would entice more midwives back to the job.

"Ideally I guess we would like to see increased morale in our workforce, more midwives willing to come back and join our workforce because we actually have really large numbers of midwives in New Zealand, it's just that they're not willing to work anymore in the current environment."

Today's announcement included $60 million dollars to implement recommendations out of the Health and Disability System review - which highlighted a need to provide more integrated maternity services at a local level.

There's also $35 million for an action plan aimed at developing services that better reflect a kaupapa Māori approach to maternity care.