Maternity services update – 30 June

The Castlemaine Health Board of Management last night accepted and endorsed the final Maternity Service Review report and its recommendations to ensure the return of maternity services to Castlemaine Health as soon as possible. The virtual Board meeting was attended by the GP obstetricians, members of the public and Safer Care Victoria.

The report was prepared by Dr Rupert Sherwood (Lead Reviewer) and Ms Lisa Smith (Midwife Reviewer). It contains the findings and recommendations of a review of the procedures, policies, clinical practice protocols and maternity clinical governance systems that determine the capacity, capability and safety of our maternity service.

Board Chair Margaret (Peggy) Ronnau said: “The report makes clear that, unless we are fully committed to making the changes recommended, the service will likely close within the next 12-18 months. Nobody wants to see that happen.”

The review recommends a new model of maternity care, along with new clinical and governance processes. The reviewers have advised that, due to concerns about the potential risks associated with the current model of care, the service remain suspended until the key recommendations are addressed.

CEO Ian Fisher said: “Everyone involved is committed to reopening the maternity service as soon as possible. The expert advice is clear that implementing the recommendations is necessary to achieve this and establish a maternity service that is around for generations to come. I urge the local community not to lose sight of the bigger picture.”

The report has identified a number of clear strengths in the service, and singled out for praise the dedicated and professional workforce of midwives and GP obstetricians. It includes a series of recommendations for change that must be implemented to address concerns about some potential risks associated with the current model of care. The changes are intended to strengthen the service and build sustainability for the future.

Reopening will be guided by the progress of the implementation plan. Midwives, GP obstetricians, the Department of Health and Human Services, Safer Care Victoria, Bendigo Health and regional partners will all be part of the process. Castlemaine Health also will work closely with the community to achieve consensus on how maternity care is delivered. A new Clinical Maternity Lead position will oversee implementation of the recommendations.

Ian Fisher said: “We are aware of the difficulty that this prolonged suspension of birthing has on the community. We understand that the weight of this difficulty falls disproportionately on those due to birth with us. To those women and their families, and to our community, we convey our sincerest apologies.”

Read the summary of the Castlemaine Health Maternity Service Review June 2020.

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