WDHB board consider Regional Women's Health Service proposal

The Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) met today to consider the Regional Women’s Health Services proposal which the board’s statutory committees considered last week.
The board resolved:
  That the Regional Women’s Health Services proposal relating to the future of Wanganui maternity and gynaecological services requires additional information related to:
  • formal additional risk and safety assessment analysis
  • a broad socio-economic assessment related to the effect on the community (using data        available from Wanganui District Council, Whanganui District Health Board and primary health organisations).
  • elaboration on the patient journey for those required to travel
  • additional information on short and long-term recruitment options including the potential for a community collaborative effort
  • investigation of travel allowance equities
  • an independent peer review of the amended proposal being undertaken.
This information will be provided to the next board meeting on 2 March for further consideration before the commencement of formal community engagement on the proposal.
Despite having good Lead Maternity Carer (LMC) services available to the women of their districts, the WDHB and MidCentral DHB have both had difficulty in recruiting permanent obstetricians and gynaecologists (O&Gs) over the past decade.
Management and clinical staff say the proposal is driven by patient safety and the need for sustainable services for women and their babies, well into the future.
The new service model developed by both DHBs centres on specialist care, especially unplanned specialist care, being provided from Palmerston North Hospital.
It is proposed that lead maternity carer services and some planned specialist services will continue to be provided from local birthing centres in Whanganui, Taihape, Raetihi, Dannevirke, and Levin.

Last week WDHB board chair Kate Joblin paid tribute to the staff members who had contributed to the proposal saying they had shown great courage in bringing what is a difficult issue to the table.
Mrs Joblin thanked obstetrician and gynaecologist Mark Stegmann for his outstanding service to women and babies in the Whanganui community.
“Dr Stegmann has been pivotal to the ongoing provision of the Whanganui maternity service over a number of years,” she said.
The board is expected to make its final decision on the Regional Women’s Health Service proposal and the implementation plan in April.