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Maternity Services Strategic Planning Process

Monday, 16 August 2004

SDHB Maternity Services Strategic Planning Process Starts

Work towards developing Southland District Health Board's (SDHB) maternity strategic plan starts tomorrow with the first meeting between key stakeholders and Dr Christine Hendry who is leading the process, Graeme Savage General Manager Planning and Funding and Leanne Samuel Director of Nursing and Midwifery announced today.

Dr Hendry who has a wealth of experience in researching maternity issues, says that tomorrow's meeting will be the first opportunity for stakeholders to meet together and to gain an overview of the planning process.

"The main aim of this strategic planning process is to improve access for women to a quality maternity service and improve outcomes for mothers and babies in the SDHB region," Dr Hendry said.

The strategic planning process will include:
- a stocktake of the existing maternity service configuration, workforce and outcomes
- identification of an appropriate maternity service configuration for the region
- development of a draft strategic maternity service plan
- submission of this plan to the Board (end 2004)
- consultation with community (early 2005)
- development and implementation of the agreed plan (early 2005)

Mr Savage says the stocktake process is in line with SDHB's 2003/04 District Annual Plan, which signalled a need to review the maternity facilities and services in Southland considering birthing patterns in Southland and the ongoing shortage of rural maternity workforce.

Mrs Samuel said that there are currently around 1300 births a year in Southland. Birth rates at Southland Hospital, Tuatapere, Winton and Lumsden have been steady since 1999 while Gore has shown a slight increase and Lakes District Hospital a decrease.

"In addition there is an ongoing shortage of rural maternity workforce largely due to recruitment retention issues for rural midwives who experience issues of isolation and 'burnout'; and the past exodus of GPs from practising obstetrics."

"This poses a challenge to providing a sustainable and safe maternity service in rural areas and providing equity of access across the district," Mrs Samuel said.

"The strategic planning process provides an exciting opportunity for the Southland maternity providers to work together to establish a sustainable plan for managing maternity services into the future" she said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has begun to develop a strategic plan for maternity services in New Zealand - the first work undertaken at a national level since changes were introduced to the section 88 for maternity services.

Wakatipu Maternity Services

SDHB is holding two informal meetings on Tuesday 17 August at 10.30am and 1.30pm with mothers and parents in the district to discuss maternity services in the region. Clinical Director of Obstetrics Mr Norman MacLean together with Maternity Unit Manager Jenny Humphries will speak at the meetings and take questions from mothers and expecting parents. The meetings have been initiated by SDHB following feedback by local residents who spoke to their submissions for SDHB's Wakatipu Health Services Consultation at the end of July 2004.

Forty submissions were received for this consultation paper and feedback is now being collated. A report to the Board is expected to be made in September 2004 with recommendations for the Wakatipu Health Services plan.

Profile - Dr Christine Hendry

Dr Christine Hendry

Chris has been working in the health sector in New Zealand for over 30 years now, in a variety of roles. During the first 20 years as a nurse and a midwife and while her children were growing up, Chris attended Canterbury University to obtain a sociology degree, then Otago University where she gained a Masters in Public Health.

Following this, she has taken on a variety of roles including maternity services manager, Director of Nursing at Christchurch Hospital, contract manager and analyst for the Health Funding Authority, auditor for the Ministry of Health.

Currently, Chris works part time as a postgraduate midwifery lecturer for Otago Polytechnic, is executive director for a national midwifery provider organisation and continues to work on projects for DHBs and the Ministry of Health.

Chris’s doctoral thesis focused on “Midwifery in New Zealand 1990 – 2003: the complexities of service provision”, with a particular interest in the organisation of maternity services in community and rural settings. Over the last 5 years, Chris has visited maternity services in most parts of the country and discussed with providers, issues involved in the development and maintenance of their services.

As a fifth generation South Islander and a mother of daughters, one of whom also has a daughter, she has a vested interest in the future of maternity services in this country.


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