Te Anau midwives still passionate about practice

Jo Lundman with baby Miley, who she delivered last winter. PHOTO: Claire Kaplan

After 10 years in the profession, Te Anau's last full-time midwife Jo Lundman decided last spring to leave the practice due to the strain on resources of self-employed midwives like herself.

She'll be leaving the practice next month with the birth of her final patient. Fellow Te Anau midwife Nicky Pealing works on a part-time basis while also providing locum services and facility cover in Lumsden. 

"To have two experienced midwives who absolutely love being midwives, living in a beautiful town like this with a beautiful community, and we can't make it work. It's heartbreaking," Mrs Lundman said.

"There isn't enough income for two midwives, and you can't do it on your own. End of story."

Self-employed midwives are paid directly through the Ministry of Health under a piece of legislation commonly known as 'Section 88'. In 2015 the New Zealand College of Midwives took the Ministry of Health to the High Court, alleging discrimination on the basis of gender. 

College midwifery adviser Alison Eddy said the end result of that case was that they were now in mediation with the ministry. In a public statement last month, both the college and the ministry reaffirmed that the current structure and payment system inadequately reflected the challenges of modern midwifery practice. 

Ms Eddy said the mediation was confidential, but could say they were in the process of redesigning a new funding model for the primary maternity services provided by midwives. 

While leaving the profession full-time, both Mrs Lundman's and Mrs Pealing's passion for the practice still remained. 

Mrs Lundman said she'd be going to a midwifery conference in Toronto, Canada and was starting a post-graduate certificate in midwifery through Otago Polytechnic. 

Under the current payment model, however, both Te Anau midwives said they didn't feel financially worse off for leaving full-time LMC work.

"I'm missing it already though," Mrs Lundman said.


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