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Waikato DHB consults on maternity services in South Waikato and King Country

The Waikato DHB is reviewing maternity services in Tokoroa, Te Kuiti and Taumarunui, to ensure that women and their whanau in the region can have a healthy birth and as healthy a baby as possible.

The 11 birthing facilities located across the Waikato manage just over 5,000 births a year, nearly 3,500 of these are in Waikato Hospital. Tokoroa, Taumarunui and Te Kuiti hospitals together saw just 161 mothers giving birth in 2015 – with only 28 of those giving birth in Te Kuiti.

Neither Tokoroa, Taumarunui nor Te Kuiti have easy access to antenatal education, ultrasounds or lactation consultants – which means many mothers in the area are missing out on important pre and post natal care.

Executive Director of Community and Clinical Support, Mark Spittal, explained: “The health of many pregnant women in these areas is sadly generally poor so it’s critical that they have good access to maternity services, not just birthing units but also advice around stopping smoking, safe sleeping and breastfeeding along with immunisation for damaging viruses like whooping cough and influenza. All these things start a baby out on a healthy journey in life.”

The DHB is proposing that Te Kuiti birthing centre be closed and that the small numbers of local women would give birth in other birthing units, including the new unit 40 minutes away in Te Awamutu. A maternity hub would be created in Te Kuiti to facilitate all maternity services other than birth and postnatal stay. A maternity service coordinator would be based at this hub to improve collaboration across services to support woman and their babies.

Mr Spittal said: “Providing a birthing facility for women in Te Kuiti which is used by only 28 woman a year is just not sustainable.

“The actual hospital birth and postnatal stay is just 48 hours in the total of 10 months of maternity care that women need. So we want to invest in local antenatal and postnatal care and ensure that all local support services like GPs, district nurses and midwives are well integrated and work collaboratively.”

The DHB is proposing that birthing facilities in Taumarunui and Tokoroa would be enhanced with a maternity service co-ordinator, more collaboration between LMCs and more integration of the maternity service with other local services, so that mothers and babies have improved access to health screening, parenting education and ultimately better health outcomes.

Waikato’s mums are younger than the national average and over half live in the most deprived areas.

Mr Spittal said: “The population in these three areas is set to drop over the next ten years, over half of the mothers are overweight or obese during pregnancy and many smoke, both conditions are risk factors for a problem birth or unhealthy baby. Services are very fragmented and difficult to access and we also have a very small number of midwives working locally.

“The number of registered births also far exceeds the numbers birthing in the facilities locally, which shows mothers are not using them.

“Maternity is not just about giving birth. We need to provide facilities in South Waikato and the King Country that are sustainable and give confidence to mothers that they can be cared for and can be supported to care for themselves and their babies in the longer term.”

The DHB will go out to consultation from 6 March until 14 April and will hold nine community consultation sessions in five rural community locations as well as an online survey. People can also email feedback to: Bernadette.Doube@waikatodhb.health.nz.

Mr Spittal said: “We really want to hear what local people and families think about these proposals and would encourage people to attend the forums in their local area and give us their feedback.”

Consultation dates and venues

Feedback can be submitted online here, or emailed to Bernadette Doube, or you can attend one of the following consultations:

Te Kuiti Ngati Maniapoto Marae Pact Trust


6 March 2.30pm – 4.00pm



Te Kuiti Ngati Maniapoto Marae Pact Trust


6 March 5.30pm – 7.00pm
Tokoroa Sports Centre 13 March


10am – 11.30 am
Putaruru Putaruru Hotel 13 March 4.30pm – 6.00pm


Cosmopolitan Club 14 March


5.00pm – 6.30pm
Taumarunui Cosmopolitan Club 15 March


1.30pm – 3.00pm
Tokoroa Sports Centre 16 March 5.30pm – 7.00pm
Otorohanga Otorohanga Club 17 March 9.30am – 11.00am
Te Kuiti Panorama Motel 20 March 10am – 11.30am


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