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DHB Women’s Health Service transformation underway

Waikato DHB’s transformation of its Women’s Health Service is well underway with the newly appointed Taskforce taking action to get a new clinical team structure in place that will improve continuity of care for women and provide more support for junior doctors.

The Taskforce was set up earlier this year to provide governance, leadership and advice in the implementation of the recommendations in the Ernst Young report that was published in December last year. This followed the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) removal of accreditation for junior doctor training from the Women’s Health Service. The withdrawal of accreditation was not a reflection of the quality of care, but about the lack of a collaborative team structure and variable consultant support for trainees.

This report (Lifting Performance and Achieving Sustainability) identified ways of improving the DHB’s obstetric and gynaecological services, including better use of resources, building a culture of excellence, strengthening training, education and research capabilities and continuing the good work being done in maternity quality and safety.

Commissioner and Taskforce Chair Tanya Maloney said she was pleased with the progress the Taskforce had made so far. “We are working closely with our senior doctors to get the right model of service delivery in place, as this was a key recommendation from the Ernst Young report. We need a more modern, team based approach and we will be going out to consultation with all our staff later this month with a proposed model.”

Ms Maloney said recruiting medical staff into the service had been challenging, and current junior doctor vacancies meant that a new roster for senior doctors needed to be put in place to cover acute care 24/7.

“It’s important to get the right staffing in place to provide our acute service 24/7 so that it is safe for women who need medical care any time of the day, night and weekend. While we’re grateful for the SMOs who have been volunteering to cover the medical roster gaps so far, this situation is not sustainable so we need to move to a 24/7 roster that all medical staff take part in,” she said.

She said that the work of the Taskforce was focused on changing culture, improving leadership and teamwork, developing a strong training and education programme and improving the service for patients and that she was hopeful of getting junior doctor training accreditation back by the end of year.

“It was disappointing for the Women’s Heath Service to lose RANZCOG accreditation for training junior doctors but this transformation programme is an opportunity to make Waikato Women’s Health Service one of the best in the country. I want to reassure women and their families in our community that Waikato Hospital remains a very safe place in which to give birth and for gynaecological procedures.”

Women’s Health provides secondary and tertiary level obstetrics and gynaecology services to Waikato residents and those in the Midland health region.

The taskforce includes a consumer representative and medical, midwifery and nursing clinical leaders who are mostly independent of the DHB. As chair, Ms Maloney reports to the Chief Executive and is updating the Board regularly on progress.

The taskforce members are:

  • Dr John Tait, Clinical Director Capital and Coast DHB, Vice President of RANZCOG
  • Dr David Graham, Clinical Unit Leader, Child Health, Waikato DHB
  • Deb Pittam, President NZ College of Midwives, Midwifery Leader Northland DHB
  • Kate Weston, Professional Nurse Advisor, NZ Nurses Organisation
  • Sharni Budd, Consumer Advisor, Member of Waikato Maternity Quality Safety Programme
  • Tanya Maloney, Commissioner Women’s Health Transformation
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