SDHB too ‘in­for­mal’ over hubs

The Southland Times - - Front Page - Rachael Kelly [email protected]

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.

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