Midwives let families down - GP

Midwives are letting Kiwi families down by cutting ties with them too quickly after birth, says a Hamilton GP who wants doctors to be more involved in their patients' pregnancies.

South City Health GP Dr Mark Taylor said some midwives were fantastic, but the profession as a whole was "letting down the families of New Zealand".

"They have little or no accountability, and seem to say goodbye to their patients all too readily during that vital postnatal period," he wrote in a recent letter to magazine NZ Doctor.

While he wrote the letter in haste after reading an article about six-week checks, Dr Taylor yesterday told the Times he stood by his statements.

He said having a baby was a life-changing experience and many of his patients felt stranded and alone when their midwife left.

He wanted midwives to move into primary care facilities so they could work more closely with an expectant mother's GP.

"There is currently so much talk about identifying problem families and how to spot potential child abuse, child poverty, child neglect, suicide, depression. The list goes on and on.

"Our best opportunity to identify these issues is not postnatally, but antenatally. Yet, currently, the system is so fragmented we are continually missing opportunities."

Dr Taylor saw pregnant patients when confirming their pregnancy, then not again until six weeks after the baby was born, for its first checks. That was too big a gap, he said, adding that GPs were sick of picking up the pieces postnatally.

Getting GPs more involved wasn't about money. "I don't care if [midwives] earn more than me, but we need to be in the one place all speaking the same language and doing the same thing."

But New Zealand College of Midwives chief executive Karen Guilliland said midwives already worked with GPs to ensure seamless and integrated care.

"The vast majority of GPs choose to refer women straight to lead maternity carer midwives," she said.

Midwifery Council chief executive Sharron Cole disputed claims that midwives had little or no accountability.

Community-based midwives were fully accountable for their practice and complaints, she said.

Waikato Times