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Practice issues

From time to time Council publishes statements or papers relating to issues affecting midwifery.

The midwifery scope of practice statement is the legally gazetted description of the role and work of the midwife in New Zealand.

The Midwifery scope of practice: Abortion services (March 2020)

The Abortion Legislation Bill received Royal Assent on March 23, 2020 and is now in force. This amendment updates the primary legislation for abortion, set out in the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977 and the Crimes Act 1961. The legislation is available on the New Zealand Parliament website.  

Midwifery practice includes care for women undergoing termination of pregnancy. The prescribing of medicines to induce abortion sits within the scope of practice of a midwife. Midwives providing these services must ensure that, they have the knowledge and skills to

  • safely prescribe the medicines
  • ensure appropriate care is provided
  • enable the woman to access counselling and culturally appropriate support
  • ensure that the woman is cared for at an appropriate facility.
  • ensure that they comply with all documentation and contractual obligations as required by the Ministry of Health.

Some midwives may not wish to provide abortion services, information or advisory services about whether to continue or terminate a pregnancy. Midwives must ensure the woman is told how to access the contact details of another person who is the closest provider of the service requested. They must ensure that all information provided to the woman is without bias. 

Education to support midwives in the provision of abortion services will be developed and must be completed before midwives commence this work. In time, and on completion of the required education, midwives may provide surgical abortion.  

In all cases the midwife must ensure that the processes of informed choice are adhered to. 

More information can be found in the FAQ section.


Children’s worker safety checking information

From 1 July 2015 new government safety checking regulations required under the Vulnerable Children’s Act (2014) came into effect. Midwives and student midwives are subject to the safety checking requirements.

Full details of the safety checking and child protection policy requirements can be found on the Ministry of Health website or by clicking here.

While many employed midwives and students will have this checking process completed through their employer or place of education, the Ministry of Health has contracted CV Check (NZ) Ltd to carry out safety checks for Lead Maternity Carer midwives funded under the Section 88 Primary Maternity Notice.  A fact sheet and link to CV Check (NZ) Ltd can also be found on the Ministry website. This document provides information for midwives regarding the process of obtaining a Children’s Worker Safety Check.

This is a link to a new document on the Ministry of Health's website that has a step by step guide for midwives about the safety checking process.

 Other Practice Issues

  • The Council's Statement on support and the role of the midwife discusses those instances where the midwife has handed over care of a woman but they remain in the clinical environment under the stance that they are "supporting the woman". The Council's position is that when a midwife is with a woman in a clinical context, they are always in attendance as a midwife.
  • Guidelines on transmissible major blood borne infections.
  • Helpful articles about ways to improve the working relationship between midwives and pharmacists and script writing.
  • The ACC Neonatal Encephalopathy Taskforce has a long term strategy to reduce the number of NE cases in New Zealand by targeting avoidable neonatal encephalopathy. 
  • Council statement on the midwife's scope of practice with regard to assessment and diagnosis of tongue tie and the practice of frenotomy April 2016.
  • If you intend to go into self-employed practice, you must apply for a contract under the Primary Maternity Services Notice (Section 88). This is administered by Sector Operations, Ministry of Health. You must also obtain an access agreement with your local DHB or any primary birthing facilities. The agreement application and access agreement are available on the Primary Maternity Services website.