Berejiklian’s baby hamper is no help

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Midwife, nurse and new mum O’Bray Smith knows where the Liberals and Nationals can shove their new baby hamper.

What is the price of a vote? Hopefully not $160 worth of baby goods to new parents.

Do not fear new mothers, help is coming! Thanks to the ever so supportive Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, all new mothers will receive a baby hamper on the birth of their child.

New parents across this state have been given understaffed maternity wards, a lack of maternity and neonatal beds and Child and Family Health Centre closures. We have only four publicly funded beds in NSW for new mums with mental illness, an absolute disgrace! And please, please don’t get me started on the defunding of shelters for new mothers trying to leave a violent partner. For eight years new parents in NSW have been let down but that is all about to be corrected with a basket from Gladys.

Support for new families (real ones, not books in a basket) are limited, with inpatient placement for sleep correction difficult to get in a timely manner and non-existent outside of metro areas. Perhaps the basket could contain the number for a help line that doesn’t stop at 7pm or one that will stay funded past the next election.

I have read The Lamp and heard the stories of neonatal morbidity and mortality in NSW as a direct result of staffing issues. I have heard stories of staff in tears shift after shift due to a lack of safe staffing levels. No staff member wants to go home having delivered sub optimal care. This Liberal government has done nothing to address these issues but thinks handouts are the answer to a better state. This is outrageous! After the birth of my son nine weeks ago I found out how bad funding of Child and Family Health has become under this Liberal government when I discovered my closest Child and Family Health centre had been closed a few years ago due to funding cuts.

The government has also promised 100 more midwives across the entire state. I know of one hospital that could take 30 and another that needs 20 of these, the rest of you will have to fight it out for the 50 left. Where will these midwives come from and are they actual bodies or just positions? Is this sheer trickery of figures as we’ve seen before? In the last ten years in my area I have seen a substantial increase in housing development, more pregnancies, more children and no increase in hospital beds, a decrease in Mothercraft nurses and centres and now 
a withdrawal of the universal home visit to all new mothers.

This NSW government has not invested in maternity and neonatal health over the past eight years but now with an election looming… well, as a nurse, midwife and a sleep-deprived new mother, I know where Liberals and Nationals can shove their hamper.

This article was originally posted as a letter to the editor in the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association publication, the Lamp.

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