One of Auckland City Hospital’s five maternity wards is closed temporarily due staffing shortages.

Ward 96, a 21-bed high risk antenatal and postnatal obstetric care, has been out of action since October 22, Auckland District Health Board director of provider services, Joanne Gibbs confirmed to the Herald.

Gibbs said the total bed capacity had dropped by 11 as additional beds had been added elsewhere.

This closure comes as more than 1100 district health board midwives nationwide voted to reject the DHBs’ pay offer and go on strike.

Midwives gave notice of two-hour work stoppages every day on every shift over a two-week period – effective November 22 to December 5.

Gibbs said the Auckland DHB had been impacted by the current shortage of midwives despite having the resourcing to employ more.

“There are not enough midwives available nationally or internationally to fill our vacancies at this time.

“In response, we decided to temporarily trial a more compact maternity service in order to improve midwifery staffing levels, and to ensure midwifery and nursing staff are able to deliver the standard of care they aspire to provide.”

She said the decision was made after careful consideration, including an analysis of patient flow in our maternity services.

“Many patients will benefit from having higher numbers of midwives per shift on their ward.”

Gibbs said the DHB believed the health and wellbeing of midwifery and nursing staff needed to come first in order to provide a sustainable maternity service for women and their babies.

“For this reason, we are taking a new approach to service provision in our maternity service at Auckland City Hospital.”

The DHB could not say when or if the ward would reopen.

Source: NZ Herald


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