DHB to pilot new maternity, child plan

The Nelson and Marlborough District Health Board has been chosen to lead a pilot project to enhance maternity and child health services.

The Ministry of Health has awarded the board $580,000 to integrate a range of core services to support women, children and whanau (family).

The two-year programme aims to make it easier for families to get access to health and social services.

Three health boards have been chosen to run the pilot scheme.

The services under focus include immunisation, oral health checks, newborn hearing screen ing, maternity care, public health nursing, GP visits and other Well Child Tamariki Ora services.

It will also target access to services for rural families, encourage registration with a midwife by 12 weeks of pregnancy and enrolment of newborns with GPs by four weeks of age.

Service manager of women, child and youth Helen Steen bergen said the programme was about enhancing services rather than reinventing them.

"Every young mother, father and new baby in Blenheim is vulnerable. It is about making the system work."

The pilot scheme follows results from focus groups with 78 consumers and 52 stakeholder groups last year which looked at the effectiveness of child and maternity services in Marlborough-Nelson.

"We interviewed families to find out about their maternity experiences, what worked well for them, what could have been better, and then we asked the health services for their point of view," she said.

"Our vision is that all whanau across our region experience a positive journey with maternity, child health and social services.

"Because every whanau is potentially vulnerable, we want to make sure there are no barriers to the services available."

Associate director of midwifery Debbie Fisher said families were confused about what services were available and how to access them.

"For example parents assumed all the services have access to their information and couldn't understand why they had to tell each one the same information," she said.

Other concerns parents had included barriers to GP visits, such as cost.

Families felt particularly vulnerable around the time of transition between services, such as the move between their midwife and Well Child Tamariki Ora service.

The board was working with community stakeholders from Marlborough, including the Marlborough Initiative - a coalition of social service workers and health professionals that focuses on mother and baby.

The group emerged as a result of meetings with Social Development Minister Paula Bennett ahead of the release last year of the Government's White Paper on Vulnerable Children.

It invited regions to advocate for specific health and social service solutions for their area.

The Marlborough Express