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Update from the Perinatal and Maternal Mortality Review Committee

Perinatal & Maternal Mortality Review Committee
03 September 2021

This is an update from the Perinatal and Maternal Mortality Review Committee (the PMMRC) about the first principles review of the national mortality review function, the next PMMRC report and other PMMRC-related matters.

Review of the national mortality review function

The first principles review of the national mortality review function announced by the Health Quality & Safety Commission on 8 July 2021 aims to reflect on whether the value and contribution mortality review makes to system improvement in health and across government can be enhanced. A particular focus will be how the national mortality review function can give true effect to the Crown’s responsibilities under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

The review is timely because of the significant health reforms underway. It also allows the PMMRC to take stock of the past year and the impact of its work.

To free up the time and resource required for the Commission to support and facilitate the substantive review, a six-month pause in some of the routine work of the mortality review committees, including PMMRC quarterly meetings and member appointments/re-appointments, has been put in place through to January 2022.

Fifteenth PMMRC report

The review and concurrent pause in appointments means the PMMRC will not be able to engage in the thorough contextual analysis and interpretation of PMMRC data until early 2022. At this stage the PMMRC plans to release a dual report in late 2022 outlining mortality in babies and mothers, and serious morbidity from neonatal encephalopathy.

It is proposed the report will:

  • include data analysis from 2019
  • include analysis and commentary of trends from 2020 in relation to COVID-19
  • provide contextual analysis of the data to convey important messages and national-level recommendations to the sector.

The PMMRC will use the report findings to work with the sector to improve outcomes for mothers and babies in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Other PMMRC-related matters

Here are some high-level updates on other PMMRC-related matters:

  • On 8 July 2021 the Government announced its decision to mandate the fortification of folic acid in non-organic wheat flour used for bread-making.
  • Associate Minister of Health Ayesha Verrall said work was progressing on developing a bereavement pathway and other programmes to improve maternity care.
  • Also in July, the Ministry of Health confirmed that it was doing a stocktake of maternal health services around the country.
  • District health board (DHB) maternity quality and safety programme reporting indicates that most DHBs are working towards or have completed some of the urgent PMMRC recommendations.
  • While we are seeing a number of recommendations coming to fruition, there is still much work to do. We need to consider how we can continue this momentum in the context of a national health system overhaul.

Thank you to all those in the sector who are supporting the work of the PMMRC. In this time of transformational change, it is important that we continue to support each other to make valuable and sustained impact to improve the outcomes of women and their babies, families and whānau.

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