Letter to the Editor: Regional Women's Health Service

Dear Sir
Tomorrow, the Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) meets to discuss and vote on the proposed Regional Women’s Health Service - one of the most important decisions we will make during my time as board chair.
How we care for Whanganui district mothers and babies is an issue that goes to the very heart of our community. I have never been surprised by the depth of feeling expressed by all parties involved in this complex and emotional discussion.
That said, it was disappointing to read in Wednesday’s Chronicle the comments expressed by three board members around their concerns that WDHB management had issued a press release setting out three options for the board to consider - and that it is the board who makes policy, not management.
As board chair I believe it is entirely appropriate for management to put forward the three options for the board’s consideration and that the appropriate forum for those considerations to take place is at the board meeting.
The press release was both appropriate and timely given the level of community interest in the Regional Women’s Health Service proposal, and the level of consultation, engagement and community input through the submission process. 
I would say however, that the three options put forward in our papers will not limit the board’s discussion on this matter. Another solution or version of one of the options in our papers may be discussed and decided on. Whether the board makes a decision tomorrow or not, the public will be kept well informed.
In light of the comments made on Wednesday, I want to pay tribute to the management teams of both boards for their hard work and courageous commitment to bringing this important issue to the table and for searching out solutions for our mothers and babies across the Whanganui and MidCentral region.
And in support of the Whanganui management team, I will take this opportunity to point to the recent Ministry of Health target results which saw Whanganui DHB placed in the top four DHBs for five of the six results. Given there are 20 DHBs across the country and the vulnerability and consequent need of our population, this is a superb and well deserved result for the WDHB management and their staff.
WDHB board chair
Kate Joblin