A GP on the isolated West Coast can now perform emergency caesareans and other services that means women don’t have to cross the Alps when no obstetrician is on duty.

Dr Brendan Marshall, a Greymouth-based GP and rural hospital generalist has become the first person to complete anAdvanced Diploma of Obstetrics through a New Zealand accredited provider.

Australian-trained Marshall moved to the Coast in 2013  and recently completed his Advanced Diploma at Christchurch Women’s Hospital – paving the way for other GPs to follow the same path.

He began training prior to moving to the Coast, and last year he continued his training through the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to help support the sustainability of West Coast maternity services.

“This qualification is used extensively in Australia, and no other centre in New Zealand has been accredited to deliver the diploma before,” said Marshall. “It means GPs are again involved in the care of expectant mothers living rurally on the Coast and helping the obstetricians based in Greymouth to ensure families don’t have to travel to Christchurch for certain services. As a team we provide essential obstetric services such as caesarean sections, assisted deliveries, and more advanced ultrasound skills on weekends.”

“This model is all about collaboration with permanent obstetricians and midwives to support a more sustainable way of thinking, so that ultimately, obstetricians, midwives, rural nurses and rural doctors can work better together.”

Because of the small population and low birth rate on the West Coast Marshall is required to regularly work at Christchurch Women’s Hospital to maintain his competence.

Philip Wheble, General Manager of West Coast DHB, said providing this pathway for rural reneralists offers an important workforce model, which rural DHBs in particular could introduce. He believed it could also assist with the recruitment and retention and helpssupport sustainable future workforce models for rural communities.

“It backs the view that in order to support rural maternity services, specialists delivering those services can be supported by medical practitioners who also have clinical expertise, academic abilities and professional qualities, to enable a safe and quality service in locations which are remote and without a tertiary hospital,” said Wheble.

“We hope this will be one step closer towards the sustainable provision of safe maternity care for the rural population of New Zealand, and we are happy to hear from other GPs across the country who may also be interested in pursuing this pathway.”

Marshall’s diploma was jointly funded by West Coast DHB and Health Workforce New Zealand, supported by the South Island Workforce Development Hub (part of the South Island Alliance of DHBs).



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