WDHB committees consider Regional Women's Health Service proposal

There was wide community attendance at today’s Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) joint committee meeting to consider the Regional Women’s Health Services proposal put forward by clinicians and management.
The committees agreed to:
1 Receive the report entitled ‘Proposal for Regional Women’s Health Services’.
And that the committees recommend to the board that it:
2 Notes the proposal is conditional upon approval of the MidCentral District Health Board’s associated capital expenditure business case for maternity and operating theatre facilities.
3 Notes the proposal is also conditional upon the support of the MidCentral District Health Board.
4 Notes that this proposal in its current form is deficient in that it requires further clarification and substantiation relating to current and future clinical risk and outcomes; and further development of the other options outlined on page 41 of the proposal before a policy decision is finally made by the board.
5 Agrees that a community engagement process, commencing in February, be undertaken on this proposal, with feedback included in the detailed service plan to be presented to the board on 13 April.
6 Agrees that the current proposal be peer reviewed by independent experts and that the results of the peer review be provided as part of the board’s decision papers for the meeting on 13 April.
7 Agrees that management be directed to include details in the service plan of travel and accommodation arrangements for women and their families and staff (including emergency travel); and that workforce risk be quantified.
Despite having good Lead Maternity Carer (LMC) services available to the women of their districts, both DHBs have had difficulty in recruiting permanent obstetricians and gynaecologists (O&Gs) over the past decade.
The clinical and management staff present emphasised that the proposal being put to the Committees is driven by patient safety and the sustainability of services for women and their babies, well into the future.
Clinicians from both DHBs have led the development of the new service model which centres on specialist care, and 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.

A series of public meetings and forums are to be held to enable the public and interest groups to meet with clinicians and management staff from both boards.
WDHB board chair Kate Joblin paid tribute to the many clinicians and management personnel who had contributed to the proposal saying they’d shown great courage in bringing what is a difficult issue to the table.
Mrs Joblin said Whanganui-based consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Mark Stegmann’s outstanding service to the women and babies in the community has been second to none.
“Dr Stegman has been pivotal to the ongoing provision of the maternity service over a number of years,” she said.