The Government is laying the foundations for a better future by improving equity and health outcomes for women through amending ACC legislation and an updated Maternity Action Plan.
“Amongst a suite of changes, we’re proposing to amend ACC legislation to cover more injuries experienced by women during childbirth,” ACC Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced today.
“85 per cent of women in New Zealand experience an injury when giving birth. A small number of these injuries are severe and share similar features to other physical injuries covered by ACC so it’s only fair that they are covered too.
“The extension of cover will benefit an estimated 17,000 to 18,000 more women per year who will now be able to receive cover for maternal birth injuries. Enhanced ACC cover will improve the support available to birthing parents suffering childbirth injuries, and in particular, more timely access to surgeries and to pelvic physiotherapy.
“This is an important change, the first of its kind, and one that aims to improve gender balance, fairness and equity in the ACC scheme, making support more accessible to those who need it.
“We know that women make fewer claims than men, have fewer injuries covered by the Scheme than men, and each woman’s claim costs the Scheme a third less than a man’s on average in entitlements,” Carmel Sepuloni said.
The Maternity Action Plan is also being updated as part of the Government’s commitment to and delivery on improving wellbeing and safety throughout pregnancy, Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall said.
“Budget 2020 saw a significant increase in funding for the maternity sector with a further $180 million of new spend. That included $35 million to progress initiatives in the Maternity Action Plan, and deliver high quality, safe and equitable maternity services for everyone,” Ayesha Verrall said.
“Progress so far includes moves to strengthen the Maternity Quality and Safety Programmes in every district health board, changes to how midwives working in the community are funded, and the introduction of clinical coaches to provide additional support for DHB midwives.
“But there is more to do. Work is underway to improve maternal mental health services, including developing a bereavement pathway to better support whānau experiencing the loss of a baby.
“For too long the system has not delivered for Māori, Pasifika and those with complex clinical or social needs. We have refocused the Maternity Action Plan, to build on what’s been achieved, while addressing inequalities that persist in the system.
“This new focus will ensure that as we prepare for the health system reforms, our maternity services better meet the Crown’s Te Tiriti o Waitangi obligations and provide equitable outcomes for whānau Māori, Pacific peoples and other populations who are disadvantaged,” Ayesha Verrall said.
The Accident Compensation (Maternal Birth Injury and Other Matters) Amendment Bill, which will also include a reversal of changes made in 2010, will be introduced to Parliament later this year. People will have their chance to provide feedback on the changes during the Select Committee process in early 2022.