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Published Friday 15 Nov 2019

Women across our region can be assured that they and their babies can always access quality, safe care and treatment through our maternity services, including over the upcoming holiday period, says Chief Executive Fionnagh Dougan.

We are proud of our maternity staff, many of whom are working with us to implement the recommendations of a recent review into Hutt Valley DHB’s Women’s Health Service.

It will take time to implement all the recommendations fully, but we have made good progress in the last four months.Like other DHBs, we face the challenge of recruiting midwives during an international midwifery shortage. We currently have five midwife vacancies (FTE) and are actively recruiting for these roles through a recruitment campaign both here and overseas. We also have a pool of casual workers to fill shortages and are looking at the ways our teams work to support midwives.

Lead Maternity Carers (LMCs) are independent contractors and we therefore do not hold vacancy rates for LMC in the area. We are however developing a continuity of care team, which will include four additional midwives to support women in the Hutt Valley, without an LMC, who are birthing in our hospital.

We are confident that this newly-expanded team will assist with extra demand during the holiday period. Some midwives who are not taking a caseload during this time have also indicated they will provide labour support if needed.

We are currently refurbishing Hutt Hospital’s maternity unit including upgrading existing spaces, and adding an additional birthing room to better support mothers in labour (due for completion mid 2020). This is a three-year phased programme of work due to be completed in 2021.

Over the longer term we are working on joint planning with Capital & Coast DHB which will look at how we deliver maternal and neonatal health services for women, babies and families living in Lower and Upper Hutt, Wellington, Porirua and Kāpiti.

This work extends beyond maternity services, to the broader maternal health system. While our planning is in its early stages, it will reform the maternal health model in the first 1000 with a focus achieving more equitable health outcomes.

Other issues raised by the media coverage:

Question around DHB attendance of meeting: In terms of Wednesday’s meeting, we understood that it was a political meeting and our Chief Executive will meet with Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter to discuss the issues raised.

Question around advice given to staff wishing to attend the meeting: Maternity unit staff were advised that if attending the meeting in a personal capacity they were not authorised to speak on behalf of the DHB, which is standard for all staff for such meetings.

Question around whether the unit has necessary equipment: There are no restrictions on equipment in Maternity unit. The Maternity unit staff have been reminded of the process to request equipment, which requires requests to go via our stores unit so we can keep equipment at the required levels.