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The Government quietly rejected advice which showed the value of community midwives is substantially higher than what they’re earning, National’s Health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says.

“Health Minister David Clark stood in front of midwives at their rally in May when they marched for fairer incomes and assured them he was listening. He served up platitudes while being fully aware that the process to redesign midwives income was complete in December last year and in fact, put their gross income at $241,000.

“The stardust from this Government has well and truly settled with these revelations that they are and have been standing in the way of any positive movement for midwives for months without any action. This review shows that they’re not getting paid anywhere near what they’re worth.

“In truth, and on the advice of the Ministry of Health (ironically one of the parties to the co-design project) the Health Minister had almost immediately rejected the recommendations of the co-design project team.

“The co-design project was set up under the previous Government in response to a High Court claim of discrimination under the Human Rights Act to design a payment system to reflect the job that midwives do.

“The team made up of Ministry officials and the CEO of the New Zealand College of Midwives as well as others from the midwifery profession considered the appropriate gross income of a full-time community midwife to be $241,000, comprising $170,000 base income, $30,000 for on-call costs and $41,000 for business costs.

Documents released to me under the Official Information Act show the Ministry was concerned that level of funding would among other things ‘be unaffordable for Government in the short or long term.’

“Nowhere in the document does the Ministry assert the calculation of the income was incorrect. So it seems that the Government is aware that midwives are grossly underpaid but they’ve prioritised $2.8 billion to bribe students and $3 billion for Shane Jones’ slush fund, but nothing for our midwives.

“David Clark must explain to midwives why he believes it is acceptable to sweep this advice under the rug for a 9 per cent increase over four years and what he is going to do now.

“This Government put a wrecking ball through the previous Government’s efforts to create a robust gender pay equity framework and, as we are about to commemorate 125 years of women’s suffrage, demonstrate their ‘yeah, nah’ approach to ensuring this vital female dominated sector is appropriately remunerated.”

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