Birthing services u-turn backed
Did MidCentral make the right decision when they voted to scrap their plan to send women to Palmerston North to give birth?
Manawatu midwives have welcomed the scrapping of a plan to send up to 400 Whanganui women to Palmerston North to give birth.
MidCentral District Health Board members voted unanimously yesterday to retain secondary maternity and gynaecology services at Whanganui Hospital, backtracking on a proposal criticised by midwives and expectant mothers.
NZ College of Midwives Manawatu branch chairwoman Bridie Thomas said the board had listened to the more than 4000 submissions on the proposal.
"I think it's good that they agreed with Whanganui and that they are keeping secondary services in Whanganui for the community there. They seemed to value the number of submissions."
MidCentral's decision mirrored the one Whanganui's DHB made on Friday. The original plan would have required Whanganui women who needed acute obstetric care, such as caesareans, epidurals and inductions, to travel to Palmerston North Hospital to give birth.
MidCentral board member Karen Naylor said she thought the service agreed to yesterday was a "significant improvement".
"I never thought it was ideal for women to travel, particularly when they're in labour."
The proposal to reduce services in Whanganui came about because of a shortage of obstetric specialists in Whanganui. Two new specialists had since been hired by Whanganui Hospital.
However, some MidCentral board members said they were still worried about staffing issues longterm.
"This is a pragmatic response," board member Ann Chapman said. "But I think we've been less than brave ... both services remain fragile."
Carla Donson from the Wanganui Women's Network welcomed yesterday's decision.
"We had a great decision on Friday with what our DHB came up with and were confident MidCentral would echo those sentiments. We've probably achieved beyond what we had hoped."
The boards' proposal to move some services to Palmerston North had many in Whanganui nervous about the future.
"There was heightened level of anxiety for expectant parents, grandparents and great-grandparents about what that would mean."
While the proposal to move services away from Whanganui had been ditched, both boards voted to go ahead with a plan to create a regional women's health service.
This would see the maternity and gynaecology services offered across the MidCentral and Whanganui DHB areas by one joint service, with a single management structure.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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