Monday, 3 November 2008

Policy Quickie: Maternity hospital stays

The status quo:
Depends on the policy of the DHB, the individual ward management, and your Lead Maternity Carer. Many maternity units have a minimum number of days you can stay if you have had a caesarean (usually 3 to 5 days), however with natural biths (60-70% of births) most places seem to have a policy of encouraging mums to leave hospital as soon as possible.

Thirty years ago stays of a fortnight were not uncommon, natural birth or otherwise. Over the years this has decreased significantly. Controversially one hospital initiated a scheme to reward mothers who left within 6 hours of birth last year, although the $100 voucher component was quickly ditched after public outrage.

Party positions for the 2008 Election:
Act: Couldn't find anything on maternity, however the policy suggests a shift to user pays, so I guess those who could afford to stay longer could buy a bed? "Hospitals compete in the business of delivering high quality healthcare at competitive prices."

Alliance: (No mention in Health Policy)

Family: "Maintain effective support services for mums before and after birth, including home visits and mum-mentoring where necessary."

Greens: Extensive maternal health policy, including "Increase choice for women about the length of hospital stay following childbirth," but nothing more specific.

"Deliver postnatal care for mothers in the most appropriate setting. Women could stay longer in hospital after giving birth or have increased support in the home."

Labour: "Labour will ensure there is a high level of communication and coordination between midwives, GPs and obstetricians so that all mothers are provided with the postnatal care they need, including longer stays in maternity units where this is required."

Libertarianz: "Libertarianz will end socialised medicine. We will progressively remove the state from all involvement in medicine, allowing providers of all forms of prevention, treatment and therapy to compete in an open market."

Maori Party: (could not find any mention on policy page on website)

"Ensure mothers have the choice to stay in birthing facilities longer so they can establish breastfeeding and the confidence to return home. Boost funding for postnatal care by $11 million a year so new mothers can stay longer in birthing facilities and have better access to breastfeeding support."

NZ First: "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, Maori and Pacific Island women, and the improved monitoring of maternity services;"

Progressives: (no mention in health policy)

RAM: (no mention in policy PDF)

UnitedFuture: Nothing explicit, just "Target infant health by concentrating on the appropriate support for parents before and after birth and ensuring high-quality extended care and support, including home visits, by lead maternity carers and Plunket."


We've had some debates here about maternity stays in the past, but damned if I could find them when I went looking, maybe they were on someone else's blog!

A full index of our policy quickie posts to date can be found here.

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