Centralising specialist services can be better


A shortage of specialists has resulted in a plan to move specialist maternity care from Whanganui to Palmerston North.

At the moment specialist care, such as medical inductions and epidurals, are provided at both Wanganui and Palmerston North Hospitals.

The proposed move of specialist care to Palmerston North could have a direct impact on up to 400 woman in Wanganui.

the Whanganui and MidCentral District Health Boards the change is being driven by a shortage of specialist staff.

Problems with recruiting and retaining obstetrics and gynaecology specialists at both boards has reached a level where current arrangements can’t continue without risking the safety and quality of the care.

Women having uncomplicated births won’t be affected.

This will cause an outcry in Whanganui but centralising specialist services can be better for patients, staff and budgets.

Patients get the high level care they need, staff get more collegial support, and the budget for equipment doesn’t have to cover two locations.

North Otago women have had to go to Dunedin for specialist care for years. Providing the mother and baby don’t require on-going specialist care they are able to transfer back to Oamaru soon after the birth.


Plunket line and other winners


National has announced a $14m maternity care policy  which includes:

* Fully funding Plunket Line

 * Establish a voluntary bonding scheme that writes off student loan debt for graduate midwives who agree to work in hard-to-staff areas for three to five years.

* Subsidise re-training and refresher courses for GPs who have a postgraduate Diploma in Obstetrics and Medical Gynaecology (or equivalent), and who want to resume providing maternity care.

* Encourage clinical networks across regions to assist in the planning, delivery, and improvement of maternity care.

* Fund an optional meeting each trimester for at-risk mothers so they can discuss their care plan with their Lead Maternity Carer (LMC) and their GP together.  This is an estimated cost of $1.5 million per year.

* Work with DHBs to provide greater choice in birthing facilities, closer to home.

* Ensure mothers have the opportunity stay in birthing facilities longer to establish breastfeeding and confidence to return home.

Macdoctor posted on maternity care  before this policy was announced.

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