Whanganui and MidCentral Health Boards extend consultation period

After listening to the Whanganui community’s concerns about the Regional Women’s Health Service proposal the Whanganui and MidCentral District Health Boards (DHBs) have extended their consultation period.
WDHB board chair Kate Joblin said although there had been more than 450 submissions (a large number in the form of a petition organised by midwives) received so far, the community had made it clear more time was wanted, and in the spirit of consultation, the two boards had agreed to adjust the deadlines.
“The closing date for submissions has been extended by four weeks and therefore, the WDHB’s submission hearing day will also be rescheduled,” Mrs Joblin said.
Submissions on the proposal will now close on 9 May 2012 at 4pm, with the WDHB scheduling time on 21 May to hear from submitters wishing to speak to their written submission.
The boards now expect to make their final decisions on the Regional Women’s Health Service proposal and implementation plan in June.
Mrs Joblin said in response to community requests the WDHB had held an additional public meeting to discuss the proposal on 2 April.
The WDHB management and board members will continue meeting with interest groups throughout the district. Interest groups who would like to meet to discuss the proposal are invited to contact the board office on 06 348 3393 to arrange.
“There has been a lot of concern about the proposal so we want to ensure everyone has the opportunity to understand the issues and to express their views,” Mrs Joblin said. “Feedback from the community and staff will help shape the final proposal given to the boards to make their decisions. 
“The extended period for feedback will mean a final proposal will now be submitted to both boards in June. In the meantime, we believe it’s important that we hear from as many people as possible.”
Management and clinicians from both DHBs have developed the proposal for a new service model. The need for change was first introduced to board members at a workshop in early December 2011.
The proposal centres on much of the obstetrics and gynaecology specialist care, especially that which is unplanned, being provided from Palmerston North Hospital. Lead Maternity Carer services and some planned specialist services would continue to be provided from local birthing centres in Whanganui, Taihape, Raetihi, Dannevirke and Levin.