Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough

In the red corner

- Arena Williams Manurewa MP, Labour

As a mum, I know how important the care of a midwife is to supporting the wellbeing of mothers, babies, and their wha¯ nau. So I’m proud to be part of a Government that’s taking action to ensure New Zealand has the workforce that we need and deserve.

Right now, countries around the world are grappling with skills shortages.

New Zealand isn’t immune to this, and even with our strong Covid response putting us in a better position than most, our health workforce, including midwives, is under pressure.

That’s why we’ve rebalanced our immigratio­n settings to make New Zealand one of the easiest places in the world for health workers to come to.

To attract more highly skilled people from overseas, we’re also setting up a onestop Internatio­nal Recruitmen­t Service within Health New Zealand to offer help with both immigratio­n and registrati­on for all kinds of health workers, including doctors, nurses, and midwives.

But immigratio­n is just one part of the solution, and we’re already well under way with our plan to upskill more New Zealanders.

When we took office in 2017, the national midwifery workforce was decreasing, and demand for their services and expertise was growing.

After years of inaction, we stepped up with a plan to make sure that staffing levels for midwives employed by DHBs were safe for women, their babies, and for midwives themselves.

We delivered the largest ever funding boost for primary maternity services, including targeted funding to increase the number of midwives working in Aotearoa and to better recognise the incredible but challengin­g work that our midwives do.

We’ve put in place measures to make sure that it’s more representa­tive of our communitie­s.

We know that since 2010, only around 50% of new Ma¯ ori enrolments lead to a qualificat­ion. For Pasifika students, it’s only about 3% of the total moving through to gaining a midwifery qualificat­ion.

We’re also working hard to create more initiative­s for recruitmen­t and retention, and to increase the number of new graduate midwives choosing employment within the public health system.

For example, in order to better support graduate midwives, and those coming back into the workforce, we put in place clinical coaching programme.

We’ve also made it cheaper for more New Zealanders to refresh their practising certificat­es and return to the midwifery workforce.

We know there’s more to do, but we’re well under way with our plan to grow our health workforce.

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