14 Oct 2008

National announces maternity policy

5:34 pm on 14 October 2008

The National Party says it would ensure that every new mother and baby could have weekly contact with a health professional for the first nine weeks of a baby's life.

The pledge is part of its maternity policy announced by party leader John Key in Auckland on Tuesday.

In policy pledges costing almost $29 million, National says it would make numerous changes to address the crisis it says is facing maternity services.

It says it would enable women to stay in birthing units longer after giving birth; and offer better post-natal support, partly by funding Plunketline to offer advice around the clock.

National says it would offer "at risk" women free meetings with their GP and lead maternity carer before the birth, and it would encourage GPs to play a greater overall role.

Doctors and Plunket say the policy is a good first step, but the Labour Party says it is a pale imitation of its own ongoing maternity work.