7 Apr 2019

Lumsden Maternity Centre downgrade looms

8:25 pm on 7 April 2019

The fight to save a Southland birthing centre has reached the 11th hour as the formal downgrade date edges closer.

Pregnant women at clinic.

Photo: 123rf

The Southern District Health Board announced the Lumsden Maternity Centre would become a maternal and child hub last August, where babies are only delivered in emergencies.

Community members have previously come forward to share their concerns, saying mothers would be forced to travel further and the decision could put them and their children at risk.

But supporters have yet to give up hope.

The Health Select Committee will consider a petition lodged by Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker next week, which urges for the birthing services not to be cut.

Northern Southland Health Company director Carrie Adams said she hoped the committee would choose to investigate the decision and find it was unjustified.

More than 100 mothers were supported through birth or got post-natal care at the centre in 2017, she said last year, and the downgrade could lead to the loss of up to 20 jobs, including about nine contracted midwives.

The community remained angry that they would lose such a valuable service, Ms Adams said.

The Southern District Health Board last year defended the downgrade with chief executive Chris Fleming saying the DHB had made a well informed decision using figures as well as seeking advice from independent midwives and consulting the company's directors.

The last official day of the Lumsden Maternity Centre is next Sunday.

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