Orange Health Service rates well against rest of NSW in maternity care

ORANGE Health Service has stacked up well against hospitals across the state in maternity care following a 2015 survey, with 81 per cent of Orange mothers saying they would speak highly of their experience to friends and family.

A report by the Bureau of Health Information (BHI) released on Wednesday showed the health service rated in line with other hospitals in 54 categories including the quality of antenatal care, involving the parents in decisions during labour and birth, skin-to-skin contact after birth, information about caring for the baby and follow-up care, with all the mothers noting midwives checked up on their mental wellbeing after birth. 

Orange rated significantly higher than the rest of the state in four categories.

Ninety-one per cent of mothers said they were able to move around and choose the most comfortable position “most of the time” during labour and 93 per cent said midwives and doctors “definitely” did everything to help manage pain during labour and birth.

BHI chief executive Dr Jean-Frederic Levesque said being able to move was important because mothers had different needs.

“There are numerous ways we can provide care that’s appropriate but it’s important to understand the mothers’ expectations so they can live that personal experience,” he said.

“The birth of a baby is a time when women want to be engaged in their care.”

Eighty-nine per cent of Orange mothers rated wards and rooms used after birth as very clean and 91 per cent rated bathrooms and toilets as very clean.

But only 39 per cent of mothers had an antenatal appointment within the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, which Dr Levesque said needed improvement.

“It’s important to have the first appointment in the first trimester to screen for health issues and ensuring the baby is growing at the appropriate rate,” he said.

“It’s also important to provide advice on healthy weight gain, alcohol consumption and smoking so women can make the right decisions for a healthy pregnancy.”

The birth of a baby is a time when women want to be engaged in their care.

BHI chief executive Dr Jean-Frederic Levesque

Fifty-eight per cent believed they were “completely” given enough information to care for themselves after birth and 49 per cent said the same of caring for their baby.

Almost a third noted complications or problems in relation to their care.

Dr Levesque said it highlighted the need for more responsive care.

“It really sends the message that clinicians should ask about the questions patients might have a tailor information to their specific needs,” he said.

“Women have very different experiences during pregnancy, delivery and taking care of their baby for the first time and it’s important to adjust and be consistent in looking at how the parents are with the baby.”

While 47 per cent of mothers used public hospital midwives for their antenatal care, Orange had the second-highest engagement of private obstetricians in the state at 28 per cent, second only to Dubbo at 49 per cent.

Dr Levesque said the reason behind the trend was unclear.

Cowra and Mudgee hospitals compared the best in the Western NSW Local Health District (WLHD), with Cowra registering above-average ratings in 17 categories and Mudgee in 14 categories.

Bathurst Base Hospital performed above average in five categories while Dubbo Base Hospital fell significantly below the mark in two.

Dr Levesque said a shortfall across the WLHD was the time spent travelling to antenatal appointments.

“That reflects the distances the region faces,” he said. 

THE Western NSW Local Health District (WLHD) has welcomed survey results on the level of maternity care at Orange Health Service.

A WLHD spokesman said the health service was pleased it had performed well across the board in the Bureau of Health Information report.

“[It] is particularly pleased to have performed significantly higher than the NSW average in assistance and responsiveness with a higher score around the management of pain by midwives and doctors during labour and birth,” he said.

The full report can be found at bhi.nsw.gov.au.