A recently released New Zealand Institute of Rural Health study on rural maternity services consumer engagement in the Midland region, has found some room for improvement, including improving access to lead maternity carers.
The aim of the study was to identify areas where improvements could be made to ensure rural women had equitable access to Midland’s maternity services.
The study’s authors, Gytha Lancaster, Kamiria Gosman, Dr. Veronique Gibbons, and Professor Ross Lawrenson, explored the views of rural women who had recently used Midland’s maternity services provided in the Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Tairawhiti, Lakes and Taranaki regions.
The study focused on listening to the views of Maori women, assessing whether there were maternity workforce issues, and understanding the relationship between primary care/general practice and maternity services.
Focus groups and individual interviews were held across the Midland region in Hawera, Te Kuiti, Tokoroa, Coromandel, Matamata, Turangi, Opotiki, Gisborne and Tolaga Bay, and involved 62 participants.
The study’s findings were grouped into five key themes:
- access to services
- quality of clinical care
- role of partners, family and friends; and
Professor Ross Lawrenson, said “Rural patients and consumers of health care have faced increasing centralisation of health services for many years. At the same time consumer needs are changing, so it was important to capture their views to ensure the service changes improved the quality of maternity care for rural families.”
The study’s recommendations highlighted areas that Midland’s maternity services could consider developing, such as making information on how to find an LMC and the services available, more accessible to consumers.
Kamiria Gosman and Professor Lawrenson recently presented the study’s key themes to the Midland Maternity Action Group (MMAG) which had emerged after listening to the experiences and perceptions of consumers from across the region.
The MMAG has a membership from across the five Midland district health boards and comprises senior medical officers, midwifery leaders, quality and safety coordinators, management and maternity staff, such as educators and a lactation consultant.
Professor Lawrenson highlighted to the MMAG what consumers considered important: access to services, an emphasis on the quality care (a consideration of cultural needs), the information needs of consumers, and the importance of family/whanau as partners in the care of pregnant women.
Corli Roodt, clinical chair of the MMAG, said “We are both reassured that some of our current activities are already on target to address a number of the recommendations and excited about the prospect of extending our work plan to progress the remaining ones.”
She said the group was already developing maternity content for consumers on a regional website, including how to book with an LMC, pregnancy information, safe sleep practices for babies, and breastfeeding information.
To read the study, visit: www.nzirh.org.nz
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