THE suspension of maternity services at Castlemaine Health is nearing an end, with the framework for a new model of care to be implemented as soon as next month.
"We're well on our way to re-opening our maternity service," Castlemaine Health chief executive Ian Fisher said.
The health service suspended birthing in May, pending a review of its maternity services.
The review recommended a new model of care, which a working group has been meeting about since August.
Castlemaine Health today said the framework for the new model of care was on track to be in place by the start of October.
A date for the resumption of services was not provided, with the implementation of the framework described as 'one step closer to re-opening'.
The report resulting from the maternity services review said: "The timing for reopening the service will be guided by the progress of the implementation plan."
In a statement, Castlemaine Health said the working group had a clear, overarching view of the service and was building in the details.
"One of the things we're especially pleased about is that consumers have had a real seat at the table where the decisions are being made," Mr Fisher said.
He said the working group had gathered feedback about what women valued in maternity care from the consumer committee, which formed earlier this month.
Mr Fisher said the consumer's voices were being heard, and they were having a direct impact on the new service.
"We want to thank them for being part of this process," he said.
Community members threw their support behind birthing in Castlemaine, with more than 1000 people petitioning for the urgent resumption of services.
Expectant mothers were among those who highlighted the importance of retaining maternity services in Castlemaine.
May Pratt, a member of the maternity services consumer committee and a community representative on the operational model of care working group, had all four of her children at Castlemaine Health.
"Having a local maternity service is so important," Ms Pratt said.
"When you have a baby, you want to be as close to your community as possible."
Fellow consumer committee member and operational model of care working group community representative Claire Nightingale said the community was invested in the maternity service.
"It can be hard to move away from something that has existed for so long, but I have confidence the service will re-open in a way that is absolutely fantastic for women," Ms Nightingale said.
"Where they will receive real continuity of care. Where they will build relationships with their caregivers, birth close to their community and never feel like a number."
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