Collaboration despite criticisms

Whanganui District Health Board will continue to work with the MidCentral health board on women's services despite problems with their joint maternity initiative.

At yesterday's meeting the Whanganui board passed resolutions signalling its strong desire to move forward collaboratively with MidCentral DHB following the release of the Regional Women's Health Service (RWHS) report.

That report was prompted by seven "serious adverse events" -- the death of five babies of Palmerston North, and two other babies being seriously harmed, one of the events happening in Whanganui.

It is understood yesterday's meeting had a resolution to "dissolve the existing RWHS" on its agenda.


Whanganui chief executive Julie Patterson said the board acknowledged there had been problems in the service which had resulted in the commissioning of the report. The report was particularly critical of MidCentral DHB.

"However, the board was very clear that it's critical we continue to work collaboratively with MidCentral to ensure the future of women's health across the two districts," Mrs Patterson said. "There are vulnerabilities in having a small service and advantages to be gained by working collaboratively as part of a wider group."

The Whanganui board resolved that further review of the RWHS was not required at this point, and reconfirmed that the strategy of collaboration for women's health with MidCentral DHB had to be maintained and strengthened. It also agreed that the management aspects of the RWHS should be redesigned and that the Whanganui and MidCentral chief executives develop advice for the board by July as to how the service would look in the future. Members also requested that a report on the service be included in each future board agenda.

Whanganui board member Philippa Baker-Hogan failed in her attempt to make public the discussion around the RWHS.

The matter was discussed during the confidential section of yesterday's meeting.

Ahead of the meeting, Ms Baker-Hogan told Mrs Patterson that is was "entirely unsatisfactory" to have the item in the public-excluded section of the meeting.

Ms Baker-Hogan went further at yesterday's meeting, calling the board "embarrassing".

"I don't know what has happened to the board in the past three years."

Ms Baker-Hogan was unable to attend the meeting in person, but contributed via phone.

Board chair Dot McKinnon said keeping the item confidential was "a matter of timing".

"We are not hiding anything from the public. It is simply a matter of courtesy to MidCentral DHB."

MidCentral will not discuss the matter until it meets on April 5.