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The decisions to axe the birthing unit at Lumsden and not provide one in Wanaka are devastating for communities and will lead to worse outcomes for mothers and babies in the lower Southland region, National Party spokesperson for Health Michael Woodhouse says.

“The Minister’s claim in Parliament today that ‘this will result in an overall higher level of services for women in the district’ beggar’s belief.

“How can it be that having expecting and potentially delivering mothers travel up to 130 km through one of the most remote and weather-affected regions in New Zealand to get to a birthing unit would result in better services and outcomes for them and their babies?

“It has been brought to our attention by the community and by Lumsden’s Directors that some of the data in the report that the decision to axe Lumsden’s birthing unit was based on is clearly wrong and does not represent the true extent of the care provided at the centre.

“What’s worse is that the Health Minister, David Clark, outlined that he has asked the Ministry to review the decision, but relied on the same officials and the same flawed advice that informed the first decision.

“The Minister also claims the issue is not about cost but there is no reference in the decision document about how costs will be apportioned in the new model, and no discussion has taken place with providers about this.

“The Minister must do what the independent advisers failed to do and visit the communities affected by the decision and listen to their concerns.

“Once he does this, he must also consider the growth in both regions when Census 2018 data is available which would surely result in a reversal of these decisions.”

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