What can midwives learn from New Zealand?
I have had a long-term connection with New Zealand since the early 1990s when both England and New Zealand started to implement policies for woman-centred care and continuity of care. Our shared passion for the importance of the relationship between women and their midwives, the nature of that relationship and how it might work for both women and midwives have led to collaboration in academic work, service development methods and systems change. I have travelled there on a number of occasions as visiting professor and to the New Zealand College of Midwives (NZCOM).
Returning to New Zealand after 9 years I was struck by the progress. It is now a world leader in providing a well embedded system of care that delivers truly woman-centred care for the majority of women. In New Zealand, women have a choice of lead maternity carer (LMC), and LMC midwives are community-based and publicly funded, they are contracted by the Ministry of Health rather than being employed by the Health Services, but have access agreements with hospitals and birth centres. LMC midwives take a caseload and provide continuity of care.
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