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Waikato DHB Seeks Maternity Hub Proposals

Media Release

Date: 26 March 2014

Waikato DHB Seeking Maternity Hub Proposals for Two Communities

Waikato District Health Board will no longer offer primary birthing services at its Matariki and Rhoda Read facilities in Te Awamutu and Morrinsville but before the board closes the doors, it wants to hear from the communities around alternative maternity options.

Waikato DHB board members today decided to enter into a contestable process to determine if outside providers can offer women in the two Waikato towns a sustainable local primary maternity model within available funding.

The options considered at today’s board meeting were:

1. keep the facilities open and upgrade them;
2. enter into a contestable process to determine if other providers can offer a sustainable primary maternity model within the available funding; or
3. close the facilities and centralise all birthing and postnatal services to the primary maternity units in Hamilton.

Option one was not favoured by any of the DHB board members and chief executive Craig Climo said the report to the board "tells us that Matariki and Rhoda Read cannot be viable as currently operated – even if they capture all primary births within their catchments.”

But he and the board members agreed that the communities of Te Awamutu and Morrinsville needed to be given the opportunity to see if they could come up with a local and viable solution, such as a maternity hub.

Maternity hubs offer a range of services in synergy with birthing, and in one place. They could include childbirth classes, midwifery clinics, lactation consultants, Well Child providers (e.g. Plunket), dietitians, post and ante-natal care.

Board chair Bob Simcock said the board decision included the resolution that if an appropriate solution could not be reached by the expression of interest or request for proposal process, that option three (closing the units) would be the ultimate decision made.

“I’m currently favouring option two, but am aware that the market may have us coming back to option three,” said board member Ewan Wilson.

“I believe in offering services regionally where appropriate, but I am comforted that if this process out in the community doesn’t stack up, that those women will get first class health care and maternity services here in Hamilton.”

Mr Simcock agreed.

“I am strongly of the view that the board really do need to give the communities the opportunity to see if they come back with something that does work.”

Health Waikato chief operating officer Jan Adams said Matariki and Rhoda Read had offered maternity services for many years by dedicated staff, particularly midwives.

"The staff at both facilities have given exemplary service and support to many women and I sincerely thank them for their dedication. I hope they are able to be part of the discussions regarding the options for service delivery agreed by the board today."

Planning and Funding general manager Brett Paradine will advise the board of the best process around timeframes for expressions of interest or requests for proposals, at the April board meeting.

The original feasibility study carried out for Waikato DHB in 2013 was by the New Zealand Institute of Community Health Care.

The decision comes after Waikato DHB commissioned a feasibility study last year, to determine the viability of operating Matariki and Rhoda Read due to declining numbers of women using them to birth, and preferring to travel to Hamilton instead.

A comprehensive public consultation process was entered into, which saw opportunities for staff and public to provide feedback on the proposal to close the maternity units, over a 10-week period between December 2013 and February 2014.

Public meetings were held, and there were a variety of other ways people could give their feedback to the DHB, including email, post and an 0800 number. Informal feedback was also gathered via Facebook and other social media.

A report was submitted to the board, outlining the findings of the consultation.

To read the study findings and consultation report in the board paper, visit www.waikatodhb.health.nz/board

ENDS

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