WDHB votes for Regional Women's Health Service

21 December 2012
Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) members agreed today that the Regional Women’s Health Service (RWHS) Development Plan will be implemented.
The meeting resolved 'that the board':
  1. Thank our respective teams including management and the clinicians and acknowledge the   coming together in partnership of the two DHBs in this service development. 
  2. Note that the regional service is going into unchartered waters and the importance of appropriate resourcing of all inputs to the service, including midwifery. 
  3. Note that there will be a minimum of quarterly service reports through the committees to the board.
  4. Agree that the Regional Women’s Health Service Development Plan is implemented.
  5. Record the boards’ appreciation of the involvement of the community in the development of the Regional Women’s Health Service.
The recommendation follows the Whanganui and MidCentral District Health Boards’ decision in June to support the development of the Regional Women’s Health Service with specialist services provided at both Wanganui and Palmerston North Hospitals, on a 24/7 basis. And more recently, the MidCentral District Health Board’s (MDHB) decision on 11 December to support the plan itself.
WDHB chair Kate Joblin and MDHB chair Phil Sunderland are both delighted with today’s result and agree that developing a regional women’s health service will serve the region well now, and into the future.
They said it is hugely satisfying that the two boards can now focus on the establishment of the joint service and the improvements for “our population” as a result.
The implementation of a RWHS will have two phases. In the first phase, the development plan looks to bring together the two existing services as one under a single management, leadership and clinical governance structure.
The second phase is focused on continuous quality improvement. The service will progressively align policies and procedures to allow the service to work seamlessly across both DHBs. This will optimise service delivery and use of the available staff and facilities.
From a woman’s perspective accessing the service across the region, initially there will be little change to present arrangements for service delivery, and changes that occur will be positive, with more services provided closer to home wherever possible.
The plan is presented as a complete ‘package’, with plans in place to support service improvements to further strengthen the sustainability of the RWHS and to enhance clinical outcomes.
A one population, many communities approach is fundamental to the service model.  MidCentral Health will be contracted to provide the regional service with staff continuing to be employed by their DHB of domicile with the exception of leadership positions.
Additional positions have been confirmed to support the implementation and sustainability of the RWHS. This includes a newly established gynaecology clinical nurse specialist, other additional resources to cover the service’s expanded responsibilities and a fixed term (12-month) position for a ‘change manager’ which recognises the scale of change across the two sites and the complex operational systems and processes that need to be integrated.
Staff and stakeholder feedback on the original proposal was considered in respect to current maternity service delivery at Palmerston North Hospital. Areas for improvement have been identified, validated and confirmed as necessary.
Under the plan, regional service governance arrangements will be established immediately and service leadership and change management support will be in place by 30 June 2013, along with detailed design of management and reporting systems, and referral, triage and surgical scheduling and management systems.
The development plan can be found on the Whanganui and MidCentral DHB websites:
www.wdhb.org.nz and www.midcentraldhb.govt.nz.