Welcome to the RANZCOG NZ Pānui - Election Special
In this pānui: 

The future of hauora wāhine in Aotearoa viewed through the political lens

The five political parties represented in parliament (ACT, Green, Labour, National and New Zealand First) were approached to seek their policies on women's health and asked specific questions relevant to the mahi of Te Kāhui Oranga ō Nuku and He Hono Wāhine. We received tailored responses from four political parties. Although a number of approaches to the Labour Party were made we have not received information at the time of writing in response to the issues raised in our letter so we have provided a weblink to their health policies instead. RANZCOG does not endorse any particular political view but engages with Aotearoa health sector stakeholders, advocating equity in women's health outcomes. 
 

RANZCOG asks: 

 

Our focus is on improving health outcomes for wāhine and pēpi in Aotearoa. We’d like to know yours.

We provided background on RANZCOG and its mahi to each of the five political parties represented in Parliament. We then asked: what are your key policies for improving health outcomes for wāhine and pēpi? 

This is what they said: 

Political parties respond:

 

Equitable access to women’s health care services - for example contraception, ultrasound, midwifery, and abortion care

 

ACT Party

The major issue with primary healthcare in New Zealand is that it’s under-resourced and fragmented. Rural areas are particularly disadvantaged by a shortage of frontline medical staff including midwives which results in an unequal provision of medical services including women’s health care services. ACT’s solution to the resourcing issue to address this inequality is to increase the number of qualified immigrants to fill these roles in the primary healthcare sector. We would work with MCNZ, RNZCGP and medical schools in more efficient pre-evaluation of qualifications and shortened pathways for upskilling, accreditation and registration. Through properly incentivised skilled migration of medical professionals and encouraging them to seek work in New Zealand acts as a basis for addressing the shortfall and inequality of service delivery.  

Green Party

Quality, free healthcare provided by a publicly funded health system is essential for everyone. It is important that the particular health needs of women are met through our health system, at all stages of life, and particularly in relation to maternity care. In Government, the Green Party has:

  • implemented a fairer funding model for midwives that prioritises high quality care.
  • introduced free period products in schools.
  • worked across Government to remove abortion from the Crimes Act to allow abortion to be treated as a health issue.
  • introduced better assessments of pregnancy needs, particularly for wāhine Māori, through Best Start Kōwae.
  • supported women who have been harmed by surgical mesh through a restorative justice process. Commissioned a report to understand how to help people harmed by mesh and minimise harm to other people.

In the next term, the Green Party will:

  • continue to increase social support services during pregnancy and postnatally, with a focus on marginalised communities’ healthcare needs.
  • increase funding to Family Planning clinics to ensure contraception and abortion care is available everywhere.
  • increase funding for Māori community health organisations, both in urban and rural areas. This will include funding for provision of primary health care to wāhine Māori, such as contraception and cervical screening.  
  • support a comprehensive Government response to recommendations of the Waitangi Tribunal arsing from the Health Services and Outcomes Kaupapa Inquiry and the Mana Wāhine Kaupapa Inquiry, ensuring the Crown meets its obligations in relation to the health needs of wāhine Māori.

Labour Party


Health Policy https://www.labour.org.nz/health
 

National Party


New Zealand First Party

  • will increase access to free or heavily subsidised sexual and reproductive health services by increasing the number of Family Planning clinics and expanding the hours of existing clinics in identified high needs areas.  For example between Orewa and Cape Reinga there is a single Family Planning Clinic in Whangarei.
  • have a longstanding commitment to supporting primary health care providers who are “on the ground” and easily accessible and available to new Mums – whether it’s their first child or their third.
  • supports organisations like Plunket, and others that provide practical help for new Mums.
  • supported the work by the Associate Minister of Health on the Maternity Action Plan, as part of the coalition government. New Zealand First supported the largest funding boost ever of $242m for primary maternity services.
  • supports the development of a Māori midwifery workforce and high quality maternity services for Māori women, babies and whanau. Support for the Nga Maia Tuakana /Teina models; mentoring midwifery first year of practise programmes, supporting recruitment and retention of Māori students.
  • Abortion – Hon, Tracey Martin, as our Spokesperson for Women, worked with Minister Little to progress legislation through the House in this term of government.
  • received the Health and Disability System Review report, as part of the coalition government, and support steps to remove the ‘postcode lottery’ for equitable access to services that support women’s health.


Maternal mental health



ACT Party


Mental Health is playing a larger role in our approach to healthcare and the issue has been at the forefront of consideration in our response to the pandemic. We know that New Zealanders seeking mental health assistance over the last 10 years has increased by 70%. If we are to continue being productive and self-sufficient, we need to have good mental health and people need to be properly supported during this unprecedented period of stress and uncertainty. 

ACT’s plan to tackle mental health, including maternal mental health and issues such as post-partum depression, is to transform the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission into a Mental Health and Addiction Service that will properly tackle the issue and deliver services for those who need them most. Under our plan the new Mental Health and Addiction Service New Zealand (MHANZ) would act as a single interface for mental health and addiction service funding.  

A person needing help would be able to choose any registered provider for their immediate care, giving autonomy to the person reaching out for help, or be referred to a specific provider by MHANZ in cases where a person lacks the capacity to do so or requires specialised treatment. For example, a person would have the choice to seek help from providers who offer treatment in specific cultural contexts, languages, or regions, or be selected a treatment provider by MHANZ directly based on information supplied. 

Providers specialising in maternal mental health would be able to register with MHANZ to provide treatment and care, and funding for services would be determined by and attached to the care of individuals and their needs. 

This policy provides solutions that extends to specific cultural contexts, languages or regions that can ensure those seeking assistance get the appropriate type of care for them. 

 

Green Party


Maternal mental health care is hugely important for the wellbeing of both mothers and their babies. The Green Party supports universal availability of free counselling for new parents. We would also ensure specialised mental health services are available for parents or expectant parents who have experienced abuse or trauma in their own childhoods. The Green Party also recognises that mental health care for all New Zealanders needs to be better resourced and that maternal mental health care exists within an over-stretched system.

In this term of Government, Green MP and Associate Minister of Health Julie Anne Genter secured $242 million for the largest ever investment into mothers, midwives and maternity services which included $60 million for community maternity initiatives – such as maternal mental health pilots.

In the next term of Government we will expand funding for inpatient and community mental health services at all levels to ensure everyone in Aotearoa can access help if they need it.

 

Labour Party


Health Policy https://www.labour.org.nz/health
 

National Party

  • addressed in the health manifesto under the mental health program
 

New Zealand First Party

  • our vision is for New Zealanders to live well, to flourish and where a good level of mental wellbeing is attainable for everyone. For those who experience mental distress to have the tools and support they need to regain their wellbeing.
  • maternal mental health is a major public health issue, which has an adverse impact not only on the mother but can have serious long-term consequences for the child.
  • every child will be nurtured from conception and protected throughout childhood.
  • support increased resourcing for those agencies and community providers who provide support for Mums and their babies like Plunket.
  • support the recommendations in He Ara Oranga, the mental health inquiry, as a government coalition partner. “Priority will be given to developing more and effective services for babies, children and young people. Access to mother and baby services will be widely available so that there is the maximum opportunity to support mothers with mental health and addiction challenges early to minimise the harm to their child. Support will be wrapped around mothers and their children and provided in a way that maximises their ongoing engagement.”


Future role of expert groups such as the National Maternity Monitoring Group, the Perinatal and Maternal Mortality Review Committee and the Maternal Morbidity Working Group


ACT Party


Expert and advisory groups are important references and feedback on decisions made by government. We welcome the advice from these groups as a means of improving public policy outcomes.
 

Green Party

  • recognises the important work of regular, independent monitoring of maternal health outcomes. Healthcare professionals, expert groups, service users and communities should be able to be involved in planning and decision-making, with decisions based on the best available evidence.
  • supports an expanded role for the National Maternity Monitoring Group to oversee automatic practice reviews based on the medical notes whenever babies are born with a low Apgar test result. Automatic practice reviews based on the medical notes would also apply whenever the birthing mother experiences an adverse outcome (for example, post-partum haemorrhage). Experience overseas, including in Denmark, demonstrates that this model of review can provide valuable information for improving maternity care practice, leading to better outcomes for mothers and babies.

Labour Party


Health Policy https://www.labour.org.nz/health
 

National Party

  • Experts groups will continue to be important advisory agencies under a National government.


New Zealand First Party

  • has no policy position on these groups however would be open to consideration of their role in the support and care of mothers and their children.   


Other policies for improving health outcomes for women and babies


ACT Party

ACT’s additional health policies also cover providing government subsidy of private hospital elective surgeries to reduce wait times. Better integrating our primary, secondary and community healthcare services to put patients first. Entering into public-private partnerships with global infrastructure developers to build new hospitals and developing a publicly funded mental health insurer.     

Green Party

Continue to prioritise the following core policies for mothers and babies:

  • resourcing lead maternity carers to provide culturally appropriate services that meet women’s needs, including in rural areas.
  • support for primary maternity units and home births for low-risk pregnant women who prefer these options. 
  • improving postnatal care services, to support physical recovery from the birth and identify any complications in recovery, and to better support maternal mental health.
  • support for breastfeeding, so that women who choose to breastfeed are able to establish and maintain breastfeeding, including when returning to paid work.
  • continuing to fund helplines such as Plunketline so that all parents have access to reliable information when they need it.

In addition:

  • understand that health outcomes improve when mothers have a supportive community and whānau, and are able to meet the material needs of themselves and their children without stress.
  • has a comprehensive policy to lift all families out of poverty, including through increasing Working for Families, and extending Best Start to $100 per week and making this universal. This additional support will help families to better meet their needs in the crucial early years, improving overall wellbeing.
  • Homes for All plan includes expanding the Healthy Homes Standards to ensure bedrooms have reliable heating to achieve internal temperatures of at least 18°C, in line with the recommendations of the World Health Organisation.
  • expand the Warmer Kiwi Homes programme to provide subsidised insulation and heating to more households, with a particular focus on children under age five.

By lifting incomes and improving housing the Green Party will support all babies to have the best start in life – with quality health care, adequate incomes, and warm, dry homes. 

Labour Party

Health Policy https://www.labour.org.nz/health
 

National Party

  • addressed in the health and social services manifesto 
  • pledging $20 million to protect women from gynaecological cancer through greater awareness, improved clinical guidelines, increased testing and greater access to clinical trials.
  • fund an independent Cancer Agency
  • set up a $200 million fund dedicated to cancer drugs
  • focused on providing better outcomes closer to home for Kiwi families and communities, to ensure New Zealand women are getting the care they deserve.


New Zealand First Party

  • ensure that safety considerations are paramount in funding decisions relating to maternity care services and require improved provision of ante-natal classes, maternity services for rural, Māori and Pacific Island women, and the improved monitoring of maternity services.
  • increase the number of Teenage Parents Units to extend opportunities for young mothers to remain in education and gain qualifications within a supportive school and community environment. 
  • support an equity of access to health services particularly for our vulnerable populations and those in rural New Zealand.
 

Election 2020 - health policies 

You can compare all political party health policies at https://policy.nz/topic/health#Health%20services.

Staff contacts

phone +64 04 472 4608

Catherine Cooper
Manager
ccooper@ranzcog.org.nz or 021 137 0748

Jude Kaveney
Training Coordinator
jkaveney@ranzcog.org.nz

Makiko Wimbush
Events & SIMG Coordinator
mwimbush@ranzcog.org.nz

Lynn Gestro
Communications Coordinator
lgestro@ranzcog.org.nz

Katie McFetridge
Administrator
kmcfetridge@ranzcog.org.nz

RANZCOG NZ webpage

RANZCOG Covid-19 Information Hub

For advice on local matters, please contact the RANZCOG New Zealand office in the first instance. If you wish to contact the Australian office an 0800 number is available: 0800 170 133
Our mailing address

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
RANZCOG NZ Office
PO Box 10611
The Terrace
Wellington 6143
New Zealand

You are receiving this email because you are a current Fellow, trainee or member of RANZCOG

Copyright © 2020 Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
All rights reserved 
unsubscribe