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Community Midwives Saved

Clayton Cosgrove MP

11 February

Community Midwives Saved

A decision by the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) to defer the decision on the future of the community midwifery service at Rangiora, Burwood and Christchurch Women’s Hospitals is a wonderful win says Waimakariri MP Clayton Cosgrove.

CDHB Board members today decided a maternity services strategy should be developed before any decision on the future of the services be made. Mr Cosgrove has been advised that this process could take at least 2 years to complete.

“This is fantastic news for the community midwives and all those who have fought to see the service retained. There was already hope following the Hospital Advisory Committee meeting that the community midwives at Rangiora may be retained for another two years at least, but today’s decision is a win for maternity services Canterbury-wide.”

Late last year a proposal by CDHB management to do away with community midwives at Rangiora Hospital as well as the Burwood Hospital Birthing Unit and Christchurch Women’s Hospital became public. Mr Cosgrove was furious to learn of the proposal through reading it in the newspaper, and has along with the local community been fighting to see the plan quashed.

“It became clear very quickly that this senseless idea had been dreamt up by a limited number of the CDHB management without consultation with the community, hospital staff, or even their own board members,” Mr Cosgrove said.

Mr Cosgrove wrote to and met with the CDHB’s Women’s and Children’s Health General Manager Pauline Burt and Hospital and Specialist Services General Manager Jock Muir. He also met with staff from Rangiora Hospital and Burwood Hospital, spoke to CDHB Chairman Syd Bradley, and met with and briefed the Minister of Health, Hon Annette King.

Rangiora Hospital and the Burwood Hospital Birthing Unit also launched petitions on the issue in December, and collected more than 3300 signatures between them urging the CDHB to retain it’s community midwives.

A Hospital Advisory Committee meeting on 1 February 2005 resulted in a recommendation to the Board that the community midwifery services at Burwood Hospital and Christchurch Women’s Hospital be disestablished, but the service based at Rangiora Hospital be retained with a review of its sustainability due in 24 months. At a meeting of the Board members of the CDHB today it was decided that the review of the community midwifery services be deferred and the report and recommendations be reconsidered following a maternity services strategy being developed and approved by the Board.

“I congratulate the Board of the CDHB for the decision they have made today and for their support of the community midwifery services. Clearly the majority of the members of the Board have listened to the community, who could see all along that the original proposal was flawed.

“I am very confident that this service can be profitable. This whole process has shown that it already has the overwhelming support of the community, now the CDHB needs to get behind it as well.

“This is a process that should have been embarked on originally, instead of the ad-hoc proposal to gun down services even in the face of unanimous community opposition,” Mr Cosgrove said.


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