23 Jun 2012

New regional service tipped to retain doctors

12:42 pm on 23 June 2012

Whanganui District Health Board chair Kate Joblin says a new regional women's health service will be better able to retain doctors.

The board on Friday voted unanimously to keep specialist maternity services, after a community backlash against a plan to move women needing caesareans and other procedures to Palmerston North hospital.

Ms Joblin says another option to use external contractors was also rejected in favour of maintaining 24 hour cover at both hospitals using health board doctors.

Ms Joblin says the regional service will be sustainable because it will take a team approach.

The final decision is subject to support from the MidCentral District Health Board, which meets on Tuesday.

Board member Philippa Baker-Hogan says Whanganui has a high percentage of complex births.

She acknowledged there have been problems staffing the service in the past.

Maternity services in Whanganui have been stretched for several years due to shortages of specialist personnel.

Whanganui obstetrician Mark Stegmann, who helped draft the original proposal to send complex cases to Palmerston North, says it would have been the best option for a safe service.