Health plan for women is adopted

By, Anne-Marie Emerson

The regional women's health plan has been formally adopted by the Whanganui District Health Board.

The board unanimously passed the plan at its final meeting for the year yesterday, although it was not without controversy.

The adoption of the plan draws to a close the debate over the provision of maternity and midwifery services in Wanganui.

The plan sees specialist services being provided at both Wanganui and Palmerston North hospital on a 24/7 basis, but under a single leadership structure.

Regional midwifery advisor, Cheryl Benn, was at yesterday's board meeting and she expressed her concern that the role of midwifery director would be only slightly more than a half-time position.

"I emphasise that midwives want this position to be a minimum of 0.8 equivalent full-time," Dr Benn said.

The midwifery director will be responsible for services across both DHBs.

Board member Ray Stevens attempted to move a recommendation that the midwifery director's position be funded to a full-time position.

"I have yet to be convinced that the midwifery manager position shouldn't be full-time," Mr Stevens said.

Board chair Kate Joblin said that would be inappropriate as it was for the management to decide.

However, some other board members spoke out in favour of Mr Stevens.

Board chief executive Julie Patterson said if the board wanted to reconsider the provision for midwifery she would insist on all managerial positions being reviewed. "I would strongly advise the board against setting the precedent of ring-fencing a position," Mrs Patterson said.

"The board has to trust that this has been adequately discussed. It is the chief executive's responsibility to allocate staffing resources."

She said all management positions would be reviewed to ensure they were being adequately resourced.

Mrs Joblin suggested a recommendation that included recognising "the importance of appropriate resourcing of all inputs to the service, including midwifery". This was passed unanimously.

MidCentral has already formally adopted the regional women's health services plan.

The first steps in implementing the plan are the establishing of leadership arrangements, appointing a change manager for a one-year period and finalising funding and delivery as part of both the Whanganui and MidCentral annual plans.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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