Changes introduced to the maternity service in Lakes District Hospital are behind a sharp increase in the number of women birthing and staying in the hospital's maternity unit over the past six months of 2013, the Southern District Health Board says.
Records showed 50% more women gave birth at the rural hospital in July to December 2013, compared with the corresponding period in 2012, an increase from 20 to 30 hospital births.
There was also a 60% increase in the number of women using the post-natal stay service, from 55 to 87, during the same time period.
Changes last June resulted in the maternity unit being staffed 24 hours a day, all year, by hospital midwives and registered nurses to ensure mothers had guaranteed access to birthing and post-natal support, as well as the option of transferring from another hospital after giving birth.
Feedback from women suggests they now have confidence the unit will be able to better support their birthing choice and care for them and their babies near their homes after delivery.
Comments on patient survey forms include: ''The staff and facility are amazing and valued''.
''I was so happy to go to Lakes and be looked after like a princess'', ''All of the maternity staff were excellent, very caring, helpful and informative'' and ''No complaints with service received from staff, excellent standard of care''.