The final round of consultation meetings around maternity services in Te Awamutu and Morrinsville, which started in December, gets underway in Te Aroha tomorrow night with the last two meetings in Te Awamutu and Morrinsville next week.
“What we are hearing from the communities so far is that they are worried about the cost and time of travelling to Hamilton for birthing, and that they would rather their local birthing facilities be given a facelift than the services being centralised,” said Waikato DHB Planning and Funding general manager Brett Paradine.
“To date, more than 60 surveys have been filled out and we expect that number to increase after the next round of meetings is held.”
Mr Paradine said Waikato DHB also hopes to hear how the Te Awamutu and Morrinsville communities would best be served with antenatal services in their local communities, should the current services be consolidated in Hamilton.
Birthing facilities in Hamilton comprise two primary birthing units (River Ridge East and Waterford) for women with uncomplicated pregnancies, labour and antenatal needs, as well as a secondary birthing service at Waikato Hospital for more complex cases (i.e. requiring specialised medication, inductions, caesarean sections, twin births, early onset of labour, etc.).
“These ideas could include things like local access to pregnancy and parenting education or lactation support services which at present, are lacking in some areas.
“The board is keen to hear other suggestions from the community as well, such as improvements to existing community-based services or options like grouping some providers together into a family/resource centre – among other ideas.”
In December, Waikato District Health Board approved a 10-week public consultation period about the future of primary birthing facilities Matariki (Te Awamutu) and Rhoda Read (Morrinsville), after a New Zealand Institute of Community Health Care study recommended that the services be consolidated in Hamilton.
Waikato DHB requested the study after a steady increase in the number of women choosing to have their babies in Hamilton rather than in their own community.
The last two rounds of public meetings held in December and January in Te Awamutu, Morrinsville and Te Aroha were well attended by interested parties.
To read the feasibility study, fill in a survey or to read more information about the review, visit www.waikatodhb.health.nz/birthing
Upcoming meeting dates
- Date: Tuesday 4 February
- Time: 7.15-8.45pm
- Venue: The Auditorium
Future Te Aroha Building
13 Boundary St
- Date: Monday 10 February
- Time: 6.30-8pm
- Venue: Baptist Church Hall, 106 Teasdale St
- Date: Tuesday 11 February
- Time: 7.15-8.45pm
- Venue: Events Centre, Ron Ladd Pl
Why was a feasibility study about these two primary birthing facilities carried out in the first place?
In the year from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013, 82 per cent of birthing women from Morrinsville/Te Aroha, and 86 per cent of birthing women in Te Awamutu, preferred to birth in Hamilton, rather than in their local birthing units.
Just 70 women birthed at Rhoda Read for the same period – on average one every 5.37 days – and 68 at Matariki – one every 5.21 days. Both Rhoda Read and Matariki are staffed 365 days a year, 24/7.
“While there seem to be plenty of ‘anecdotal’ reasons for this, one of the purposes of the feasibility study was to find out from the women themselves, and their midwives, why this is so,” said Mr Paradine.
The review team, headed by Dr Chris Hendry, a midwife with more than 30 years’ experience, undertook a detailed review of factors impacting on the reduced use of these facilities by local women, and recommended that birthing and labour services for Morrinsville/Te Aroha and Te Awamutu women, be consolidated in Hamilton.
Dr Hendry is a champion for rural services and primary birthing, having managed a Canterbury primary birthing unit in the past.
When she and the review team carried out the study, they met with staff and the midwives who work in or with Matariki and Rhoda Read.
“Women in the localities who had their babies in Hamilton also filled in questionnaires to determine the reasons why women chose not to birth in their local unit,” said Mr Paradine.
“Responses from those women indicated that they themselves had chosen to birth in Hamilton, but felt that there needed to be a maternity unit in the town for those who wanted to birth locally,” said Dr Hendry.
“But the facts are that only 14-19 per cent of eligible women in the 2012-2013 year did that. Which says to me that these towns do not have the local maternity services that the majority of birthing women want or need, and that’s what we need to ask them – that’s where the improvements will come from.
“The facilities are not servicing the towns well and if only such a small percentage are using these considerable resources, that’s not a fair distribution of maternity resources for the rest of the community.”
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