A shortage of Lead Maternity Carers in the Coromandel area has led Waikato DHB to urge pregnant women in the area to contact the Birthing Unit at Thames Hospital if they can’t find a midwife.
The number of self-employed midwives in the Coromandel has dropped from 11 to four in the last three years and has left many pregnant women struggling to find a local midwife for their pregnancy care.
Waikato DHB clinical midwife director Jo Clarke says the shortage of LMCs is a problem nationwide, but particularly in remote rural areas.
“We have a number of hot spots in the Waikato like South Waikato and the Coromandel where there are not enough LMCs for the population.
"We are very concerned about the situation in the Coromandel. We know already of five women in Thames who have made contact with our birthing unit as they are unable to find a local midwife."
She says it is important that women who can’t find an LMC to get in touch with the Thames Birthing Unit who can provide support for the women with antenatal care like important scans, blood tests and blood pressure checks.
"It’s important that women contact Thames within the first 12 weeks of their pregnancy for these vital antenatal checks, it will also allow us to pick up any issues or risk factors early that might need referral to Waikato Hospital.”
LMCs are self-employed and provide primary maternity care, while the DHB provides back up primary care at Thames and its three rural hospitals and secondary and tertiary care at its Waikato Hospital.
Waikato Hospital was fully staffed for its own midwives, but was recently given resources for 15 more which the DHB is currently recruiting for.
Last April there were 163 LMCs registered for an access agreement to birth at Waikato Hospital, and while this year’s number won’t be known until April, a survey to all these LMCs last year found that 44 were considering leaving the profession in the coming year.
Community midwives, employed by the DHB, of which there are four based in Hamilton, are looking after some women who can’t find a midwife.
The DHB is writing to local GPs in the Coromandel to let them know about the shortage and advising them to refer women to the birthing unit. Women can ring the Thames Birthing Unit on: 07 868 6009.