A number of Whanganui District Health Board members are furious with a news release that implies only three options will be considered for Wanganui Hospital maternity services.
The options have been drafted in time for Friday's board meeting and will also be considered by the MidCentral board next week.
It comes after weeks of debate by the boards - the WDHB especially - which led to public submissions and hearings surrounding a proposed regional women's health service aimed at shoring up fragile obstetrics and gynaecology (O&G;) services based at Wanganui Hospital.
But Monday's news release has fired up at least three board members: Michael Laws, Clive Solomon and Ray Stevens.
Mr Laws wanted to know who had authorised the media release.
He said there were more than three options the WDHB might consider.
"What is going on?" he asked.
"This media release should never have gone out and is an insult to the board and the public of Wanganui," Mr Laws said.
"Yet again, it seems to be an example of senior management crossing the line and seeking to frame a political decision by an elected and appointed governance board.
"I would have thought they had learned from the debacle of the original proposal. Obviously not."
Mr Laws said there were any number of options that the board might consider "and to try and train the board to consider only the three proposed is simply ludicrous".
He said it was important to remember that it was the board, not management, that made policy.
"The board may not even make a final decision but seek further information to guide an informed decision," Mr Laws said.
"The incredible number of submissions and the widespread public response sends a clear message: retain the status quo.
"But we may be able to improve efficiency and effectiveness by co-operating rather than co-aligning with MidCentral."
Mr Laws said he and other board members were nervous at the role of senior management in this proposal.
He said he would be making every endeavour to ensure that senior management "go back in their box" and have it reinforced, again, that "it's the board's job to make policy and theirs [management] to enact".
He said he would continue to fight to retain a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week, fully staffed O&G; maternity service for Wanganui and the district.
Mr Stevens said whatever was going to be discussed "must not be limited to these [options] or the decision pre-empted by limiting us to these.
"These will not be the only options, I assure you.
"The public would be very disappointed if their input was restricted to this," he said.
Monday's release was attempting to pre-empt a result that was narrowing the scope of the original intent of the board, Mr Stevens said.
"Consultation is just that: consultation. The end result will be decided by the board after full discussion and not determined by a media release from 'persons unknown'," he said.
Mr Solomon said he could never agree to limiting the options as the news release implied.
"I need to flag that I am not only losing patience but becoming exceedingly irate at inappropriate management meddling in board functions and roles that are entirely governance," he said.