Integrating North-West maternity services into the public health system will deliver better and safer mother and baby care, Health Minister Guy Barnett says. Mr Barnett described it as an "absolutely special" development and was keen to meet one of the first people to use the newly integrated maternity service, tiny Karson Radford. "The new service will provide high-quality care to mothers and babies in the region and importantly, it has been designed in collaboration with clinicians and consumers to deliver a safe, integrated and effective service,'' Mr Barnett said on December 8. Hospitals North West chief executive Paula Hyland said 44 maternity employees had transferred across to the public system from the private hospital, including 38 of the 41 registered nurses and midwives. Ms Hyland said the operation was not short of staff. It was being supported by some agency staff and recruiting was under way. She said there were also enough obstetricians, with some current locum support. Mr Barnett said he was confident families would be pleased with the new service, which was implemented a year earlier than originally planned. He said a "massive amount" of work had been done to integrate the services, which he said provided a "wonderful, caring environment for mothers and babies". The decision to make the change followed a review which issued recommendations in 2021 and the closure of birthing services at the Mersey Community Hospital in 2016. Mr Barnett said about 1000 babies were born annually in the region. "I'm delighted to hear that since Monday's transition, 11 Tasmanians have been born here: Five boys and six girls," he said. "We listened to the community and this change brings all elements of the maternity service together."