The Hodgman Liberal Government is proud to announce the establishment of a new integrated North West maternity service, modelled on expert advice to improve safety for mothers and babies after years of indecision.

The new service will be established in the North West with public inpatient and birthing services delivered by the North West Private Hospital in Burnie and antenatal and postnatal care delivered by the Tasmanian Health Service at the Mersey Community Hospital, the North West Regional Hospital in Burnie and at a number of other rural sites via outreach services.

This is part of the Government’s One Health System reforms and is putting the health and safety of North West mothers and babies at the forefront of our decisions. It is also based on the best clinical advice from specialists. It’s not about saving money.

The new consolidated birthing service will commence on Tuesday, November 1 this year. This new service has been designed based on clinical advice from specialists who want the very best for their patients, and will provide better, safer care to mothers and babies across the North West Coast.

Patients will benefit from the new service with:

· The expansion of services for antenatal and postnatal care across the North West, by providing greater levels of midwife led outreach and home visits after the birth;

· Expansion of the popular Midwifery Group Practice model, allowing women to have a known midwifery team who supports them before, during and after the birth of their baby;

· Refurbishing some patient areas at the NWPH which will benefit all mothers;

· Re-establishing services for private patients at the NWPH within the next 12 months;

Integrating the inpatient services at a single site will improve access for expectant mothers and their babies to higher dependency and other necessary support services, including paediatrics and other critical support services.

New birthing and maternity inpatient admissions at the Mersey Community Hospital will cease when the new service commences on November 1, 2016.

Women and babies who are already receiving care at the Mersey on the date of transition will not have to move, they will continue to be cared for until they are ready to go home.

The Australian Government, as owner of the Mersey Community Hospital, has been consulted about the changes to maternity services at the hospital.

Funding for services at Mersey stays at the Mersey. There have already been increases in elective surgery, and over the coming year, we will see the progressive addition of new and enhanced services including geriatric services, palliative care, rehabilitation, rheumatology and pain management services.

A new bus service is commencing in September, which will provide multiple services a day between the Mersey and North West Regional Hospital at a heavily subsidised rate.

This includes visits for outpatient appointments and elective surgery, as well as families travelling to see patients that are receiving care at health facilities outside of their region.

To allow for the new birthing service to operate, the longstanding evergreen contract between the Tasmanian Government and North West Private Hospital will cease, and a new contract has been agreed with a fixed eight-year term.

This is another long-standing issue that is being resolved through this successful negotiation.
While there will be changes to staff working arrangements to implement the new, safer service model, there will be no forced redundancies.

There are opportunities for the midwifery team from the Mersey to be part of the new service, including being involved in birthing.

Staff have been and will continue to be fully informed of these changes. The THS is working closely with NWPH to ensure a smooth transition, where the needs of patients are met and staff are fully supported.

The THS will consult extensively with pregnant women who had planned to give birth at the Mersey on or after November 1, 2016, to ensure they, their family and general practitioner, understand how and where they will access birthing and inpatient services once they are moved.

We are particularly pleased to have a strong partnership with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners that has strongly supported for a consolidated birthing service.

The college will ensure that GPs across the Coast are closely involved in their patients’ birthing plans based on accurate information.

North West Private Hospital chief executive Keith Cock said “We are looking forward to expanding the birthing and maternity inpatient services in Burnie.”

“The North West Private Hospital is working with the Tasmanian Health Service to ensure that the inpatient and birthing service at Burnie is of the highest quality and is seamlessly integrated with the antenatal and postnatal services provided by the Tasmanian Health Service” Mr Cock said.

The Hodgman Liberal Government is committed to giving Tasmanians the best start at life, and this new service will add to the strengthened role of Child Health and Parenting Services (CHAPS) nurses, which will transfer from the Department of Health and Human Services to the Tasmanian Health Service from January 1, 2017, benefitting children and families across the state.

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