A new maternity unit at Hawke's Bay Hospital will mean the end of birthing services in Napier, if a proposed change goes ahead.
The Hawke's Bay District Health Board is reviewing maternity services and wants to develop a new maternity hub on site at Hawke's Bay Hospital specifically for low-risk births, have new education centres in Napier and Central Hawke's Bay, and enhance care in Wairoa.
Consultation with the public and key stakeholders will begin this week over proposed changes to the maternity services offered by the board.
Chief executive Kevin Snee said maternity services had not been reviewed for many years and it was time to look at what was offered, what services were and were not being used and what could be improved and be sustainable.
He and the board favoured a proposal for a hub that offered low-risk maternity services from a stand-alone unit supplementary to current secondary care maternity unit, Ata Rangi.
"This proposal would mean we would close the in-patient maternity beds in Napier, which aren't well used now, with less then 10 per cent of Napier women choosing to have their babies there," he said.
"If the public agreed with us we would also like to develop a pregnancy and maternity support centre at the Napier Health Centre, which would provide a venue for meetings, pregnancy education, breast feeding support and updated maternity information."
Plunket Gisborne, Wairoa and Hawke's Bay area manager Sarah Mulcahy said it was a chance for the public to have their say on local services.
"We are pleased that the district health board is consulting with the community, midwives and others in the sector on the future options and we look forward to hearing the outcome once the consultations process is over," she said.
The new hub in Hastings would mean low-risk births still had access to specialist services if needed.
"Women have been choosing to deliver their babies at Hawke's Bay Hospital - it's not tailored for low-risk births and we would like to do that better by developing a separate unit, but have the facility close to specialist services, like operating theatres and the special care baby unit, should they be needed," he said.
The board also favoured an option to develop a pregnancy and support centre in Central Hawke's Bay.
Dr Snee said there was currently no support centre for pregnant women or those who had recently had a baby in that area.
For Wairoa women, the district health board favoured a proposal to enhance maternity care, either through the hospital or for it to be more community-led.
It was hoped community consultation would establish preferred options.
"We want to deliver the right care from the right people from the right place, and ideally we favour the option of developing a new maternity hub for women to use from throughout the distinct. It's up to the public to tell us if they agree," Dr Snee said.
Meetings will be held throughout the region. Special meetings can also be arranged with the DHB for further information until November 21.
Consultation documents are available at: www.hawkesbay.health.nz