Staffing shortages a challenge at Taupō Maternity
18/06/2021 12:31:50 p.m.

Monday 14 June 2021

Staffing shortages a challenge at Taupō Maternity

Taupo Hospital’s birthing unit will re-open to birthing mothers 24 hours a day but only during the week.

Emergency rostering has enabled Lakes DHB to be able to offer surety to women birthing in Taupo of a 24 hour stay but opening hours are still restricted.

The unit opened from 7am today (Monday 14 June) until 11pm Friday 18 June. On weekends it will be closed, reopening each Monday morning at 7am.

These opening hours are for a minimum of one month due to an inability to recruit to vacant midwifery and nursing positions

Staffing vacancies have led Lakes DHB to restrict the opening hours in recent weeks. The DHB is working hard to recruit as well as trying to fill gaps in the roster to allow the unit to stay open 24/7. Lakes DHB remains strongly committed to providing a primary birthing and postnatal service at Taupō and is doing everything possible to achieve this.

During closures of the unit at the weekend, lead maternity carers (LMCs) are able to still use the unit to birth their clients. However, the new mother and baby then need to be discharged home or if the mother or baby require an inpatient stay the mother and baby can be transferred through to Rotorua’s Maternity Services.

Resignations of staff means the Taupō unit has less than half the required staffing currently,

Alan Wilson, the Chief Operating Officer for Lakes DHB has previously stated that everything possible is being done, with the DHB actively recruiting. However, he says the country-wide shortage of midwives has been compounded nationally with the borders to Australia reopening, with a number of midwives heading to Australia. Lakes DHB is currently recruiting nurses as well as midwives when available to have the unit able to open 24/7 as soon as possible.

There have been occasional closures of the Taupō unit over the past year, where staffing shortages have meant the unit is unable to offer or support continuing postnatal care due to gaps in the roster.