INDEPENDENT NEWS

Midwifery Petition Presented To Parliament on 09 April

Published: Wed 10 Apr 2024 11:40 AM
The Parliamentary petition asking the House of Representatives to investigate the Midwifery Council’s proposed revised Scope of Practice was presented to Parliament on Tuesday [9 April].
Ashburton midwife Deb Hayes, who initiated the petition in January, presented the petition to James Meager, National MP for Rangitata, and NZ First List MP Tanya Unkovich.
Mrs Hayes said the replacement of the words “woman” and “mother” with the broader term “whānau” was among other changes to the current midwifery scope of practice opposed by 90% of respondents in a feedback document released by the Midwifery Council in March 2023.
Despite this opposition, the revised version of the scope of practice released late last year, and due to be implemented in June 2024, had barely changed from earlier versions.
Mrs Hayes said the apparent failure to genuinely listen to concerns raised by midwives and others led to her petition calling on the House of Representatives to investigate the Midwifery Council’s removal of women and babies from the revised scope of practice.
Mr Meager congratulated Mrs Hayes’ hard work in initiating the petition and gathering more than 7000 signatures by 1 March in support.
“It is clearly an issue which is important to many New Zealanders, including those in Mid and South Canterbury, and one which we are happy to look into,” he said.
Mrs Hayes and 15 supporters were thrilled to be invited into the Debating Chamber at Parliament to hear the announcement of the petition.
Mrs Hayes said the proposed revised scope was not “fit for purpose as it is written”.
“It reads more like a statement of philosophy than a regulatory instrument to which registered midwives can be held accountable,” she said.
In March, in response to the growing opposition to the erasure of women from midwifery, the Midwifery Council added “women” back into the Scope of Practice as a tag-on to the word “persons”.
Mrs Hayes said this change went some way to addressing concerns, but the new version of the revised Scope of Practice was still a document that would likely be challenging from a legislative and regulatory perspective.
“The lack of clarity in the translation of midwife as ‘kāhu pokai’ in te reo Māori, and the large range of people (men, women and children) who are covered by the Scope’s wording of ‘women/persons and whanau’, appears to be a Scope for a Generalist Practitioner, not a Midwife with women and newborn babies at the centre of care.”
Former College of Midwives Chief Executive and Women’s Rights Party List candidate Karen Guilliland said the interchangeable use of the word “midwife” with “kahu pōkai” appears to exclude both the woman and the midwife as it could be applied to any care-giving workforce.
Midwives provide care to individual women, also encouraging the participation of whānau in each woman’s care and promoting health of whānau, Mrs Guilliland said.
“However, it is the woman who defines her whānau and decides how others will be involved in her care,” she said. “This is a very important principle because it upholds women’s rights, so long fought for and, as we can see in many parts of the world, so easily lost through political or other contextual changes.”
The scope of practice for all regulated professions should be clear and specific as it sets the boundaries of each profession’s practice. This protects both the professionals and their consumers.
Now that the Scope of Practice has been presented to Parliament, it could go before the Regulations Review Committee which oversees regulations of non-Parliamentary bodies, including bodies that set professional scopes of practice, to ensure these are fair and consistent with the law.
Mr Meager chairs the Justice Select Committee and is also a member of the Regulations Review Committee.

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