SDHB too ‘informal’ over hubs
Southern District Health Board chief executive Chris Fleming has apologised to the northern Southland community for the teething problems relating to turning the Lumsden Maternity Centre into a maternal and child hub.
But he has stopped short of saying sorry to the four women who experienced rapid births at the hub, because a separate report found that of the two women who were interviewed, both of their birthing outcomes were unavoidable.
A damning independent report from EY, released yesterday, was critical of the DHB’s ‘‘informal’’ management processes during and after hubs were set up at Lumsden, Te Anau and Wa¯ naka.
It was critical of the DHB’s project management, governance framework, and communications and change management, and it has made 10 recommendations.
Fleming said that while he thought the EY report was ‘‘reasonably balanced and quite fair’’, he said a more structured setup should have been in place before the primary birthing unit became a hub.
The report said there was no clear definition of what a maternal and child hub would be, and what services it would provide.
When Fleming was asked how the DHB could implement a hub if it didn’t know what that was, he said: ‘‘We should have done better.’’
He said there were ‘‘tensions and challenges’’ in the community in terms of opposition to the transition to a hub, and the DHB had not done a good job at communicating with the northern Southland community.
‘‘Given that, we should have redoubled our efforts in the setup, before the transition.’’
The hub setup had been ‘‘exceptionally difficult’’ for all DHB staff involved and it had lost some staff as a consequence, Fleming said.
Despite the issues raised in the report, he had confidence in the hub model. There was no going back and the hub would remain, he said.
Associate Minister of Health Julie Anne Genter said the DHB had a lot of work to do to regain trust, particularly in northern Southland.
‘‘The Southern DHB didn’t bring the community along with their changes from 2016 onwards, and didn’t have a viable substitute in place before downgrading the birthing unit in Lumsden.’’
The Lumsden Maternity Centre was run by the Northern Southland Health Company. Chairwoman Carrie Adams said the community’s concerns about the hub setup at Lumsden had now been vindicated.
‘‘I don’t think the result will be a surprise to anyone.’’
Only two of the four women who had rapid births at Lumsden had agreed to be interviewed for a separate report from the New Zealand College of Midwives. That review found both of the women’s birthing outcomes were unavoidable.
It also said some women were planning to have a home birth out of necessity rather than preference, while other women were having unplanned home births because they were not confident that there was enough time to travel the extra distance to a birthing unit.