The first annual report for Waikato District Health Board (DHB) as part of a focus on maternity quality and safety confirms that a number of changes have taken place in recent months in response to an action plan introduced in September last year.
There are now extra midwifery staff in delivery suite and in the Women’s Assessment unit, beefed up midwifery leadership, an additional obstetrician and gynaecologist on staff and more equipment to ensure clinical efficiency and timely patient care.
Senior medical officers also now present after hours to support the operational environment and more lead maternity care and consumer engagement with the maternity quality and safety programme.
Waikato DHB clinical midwife director Corli Roodt, who also chairs the Midland Maternity Action Group, said the significant investment in patient safety meant Waikato DHB was well on the way to establishing itself as a centre of excellence in New Zealand.
“Maternity quality and safety is not just about what happens in the hospital, it’s about working together across the whole community to improve women’s health and the health outcomes of newborns,” said Mrs Roodt.
A Waikato Pepi pods project driven by Waikato DHB’s Te Puna Oranga (Maori Health) across the Midland region has made great strides towards reducing the incidence of Sudden Unexplained Infant Deaths and to get messages out about the importance of smoke free homes and breastfeeding.
As part of the local maternity quality and safety programme, Waikato DHB established a group made of local midwives, primary care providers, consumers, primary birthing facility staff and hospital staff to oversee quality activities.
The annual report, presented to the Waikato DHB board last week and to the Ministry of Health last month, gives an over view of maternity services in the Waikato, describes the birthing population and issues related to maternity and birth outcomes.
“Waikato has one of the highest numbers of women birthing outside of a main hospital in community facilities,” said Mrs Roodt.
“Encouraging the option of primary birthing is important to the DHB and it is worth reflecting that the good outcome Waikato demonstrates against the national clinical indicators for normal births and low caesarean section rates are a result of low risk women being able to birth in environments suited to their needs within their own communities.”
Waikato DHB has six primary birthing units and funds five privately owned and operated birthing units.
In 2010-2011, 32 per cent of all Waikato births occurred in primary birthing facilities.
“This is because Waikato has more primary birthing facilities available to women across the district than any other DHB in the country.”
For women with higher needs and complications the Waikato community has access to a tertiary hospital centre at Waikato Hospital that can care for complicated cases in need of medical interventions.
The annual report shows that the Waikato health community continues to promote breastfeeding for both maternal and infant health benefits and has increased its breast-feeding rates significantly at discharge from hospital with work on going to continue support for the mother returning home.
The report also describes future quality activities due for undertaking in 2013/14.
“Our birthing population data tells us that we have a high proportion of births to young Māori women and higher smoking rates than other DHB areas which can lead to poorer health outcomes for mothers and newborns.
“We have large numbers of women living in higher deprivation areas which impacts on health inequalities and health outcomes. This information has led us to focus on premature births data, health needs of women, smoking during pregnancy and early registration with a midwife in our plan for this year,” said Mrs Roodt.
We do have many challenges ahead, but we are confident that with the commitment of the passionate members of Women’s Health and our partners in the community, we will not only deliver against the maternity quality and safety requirements planned, but we will establish Waikato as a centre of excellence in New Zealand, she said.
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