Ma­ter­nity ser­vice shake-up on the way

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - AARON LEAMAN

Health bosses are con­sid­er­ing clos­ing Te Kuiti’s birthing unit, say­ing a shake-up is needed to re­verse poor health sta­tis­tics for preg­nant women in the King Coun­try and South Waikato.

The Waikato Dis­trict Health Board has started a six-week round of con­sul­ta­tion ask­ing for feed­back on its pro­posed re­shape of ma­ter­nity ser­vices in Te Kuiti, Toko­roa and Tau­marunui.

The pro­posal would see the Te Kuiti birthing unit shut and re­placed by a hub that would deal with ma­ter­nity ser­vices other than birth and post­na­tal stay.

Lo­cal women would have to travel to other units to give birth, such as the one in Te Awa­mutu, which is a 40 minute drive away.

Un­der the health board pro­posal, birthing fa­cil­i­ties in Tau­marunui and Toko­roa would be en­hanced.

The DHB has 11 birthing fa­cil­i­ties across the re­gion, man­ag­ing about 5000 births a year.

Nearly 3500 of these births are at Waikato Hospi­tal.

Waikato DHB com­mu­nity and clin­i­cal sup­port ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Mark Spit­tal up­dated board mem­bers on the pro­posal last week, say­ing they should ex­pect both good and bad feed­back.

‘‘There was a gen­eral recog­ni­tion at the [pub­lic] meet­ing that I was at that more of the same

‘‘...more of the same sim­ply does not cut the mus­tard.’’

sim­ply does not cut the mus­tard when the health sta­tis­tics for preg­nant women in many of the com­mu­ni­ties are the way that they are,’’ Spit­tal said.

‘‘Tau­marunui is a case in point, where 70 per cent of young moth­ers who birth in that re­gion are clas­si­fied as obese and one in two of them smoke dur­ing preg­nancy.

The board will be asked to make a de­ci­sion on the pro­posal in late April.

Spit­tal said staff want to shift the fo­cus away from the 48 hours sur­round­ing a birth and onto the 10 months of preg­nancy.

He said a ‘‘sig­nif­i­cant num­ber’’ of Te Kuiti women al­ready opted to give birth out­side the re­gion which was fur­ther chal­leng­ing the vi­a­bil­ity of the birthing unit.

Spit­tal an­tic­i­pated that staff, other providers, and the pub­lic will have ideas about how to get bet­ter in­te­grated care for moth­ers and their young ba­bies.

‘‘There comes a point in time when the vi­a­bil­ity, both clin­i­cally and fi­nan­cially, of main­tain­ing a very small unit just for birthing be­comes re­ally chal­leng­ing.

‘‘What we would pre­fer to do is put money that we are cur­rently spend­ing on bricks and mor­tar into ser­vices that re­ally ad­dress some of the core is­sues. The down­side will be that there is some in­creased travel for some at time of birth.’’

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