Rural maternity services report by middle of year

Recommendations from the Southern District Health Board's review of rural maternity services will not be delivered until the middle of the year, because the board wants to look at the services in a wider context, funding and finance general manager Robert Mackway-Jones says.

An advisory group set up last year in response to concerns about the viability of some rural maternity units was to report back last month on how to reorganise services.

Mr Mackway-Jones said that as the review progressed, it became apparent some rural health trusts were cross-subsidising maternity services with other funding, so it did not make sense to look at maternity in isolation.

The review of health care in Queenstown was also part of the reason for the delay.

Central Southland Hospital Trust chairman Colin Ballantyne said he wanted an assurance the Winton Maternity Centre, where about 170 babies were born a year, had "security" of funding.

He was sending DHB board members a copy this month of Venture Southland's sustainability review of Southland maternity centres, which was commissioned in response to concerns about the DHB review.

He declined to discuss the contents of Venture's report but said the point of the DHB review seemed to be keeping "bureaucrats" busy.

Mr Mackway-Jones said the review was not being carried out for its own sake.

It was possible the advisory group's recommendations would go out for public consultation, depending on what it came up with, Mr Mackway-Jones said.

eileen.goodwin@odt.co.nz

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