10 Aug 2018

Lumsden Birthing Centre in Southland to close

1:41 pm on 10 August 2018

The Lumsden Maternity Centre, in Southland, will close despite strong opposition from the local community.

Pregnant woman sitting on a bench.

Photo: 123RF

The Southern District Health Board has announced that the birthing unit will become a maternal and child hub, where babies are only delivered in an emergency.

Earlier this year, a protest march was held down Lumsden's main street and a 4000 signature petition was presented in opposition to the proposed closure.

The Southern District Health Board has today released its final plan for an Integrated Primary Maternity System of Care, which it said had a strong emphasis on the midwifery workforce.

The plan includes establishing maternal and child hubs in five locations - Wanaka, Te Anau, Tuatapere, Ranfurly, and Lumsden.

The DHB said the plan also included funding support for midwives working in remote rural locations, to recognise the additional duties they perform, and investment in technology to support access to specialist care and reduce the need to travel.

The Clutha-Southland MP, National's Hamish Walker, said the move decision puts mothers and babies at risk.

"What we know is that delays in getting to maternity care compromises outcomes and could put babies and mothers at greater risk. This is a risk that the government is forcing on Clutha-Southland mothers by cutting services in Lumsden."

He said when the centre closes mothers may have to travel up to 130 kilometres to give birth.

Mr Walker said the population in the area was increasing, especially with a new 1000 home housing development planned for nearby Kingston.

He said he and National's health spokesperson, Michael Woodhouse, would meet with directors of the maternity centre on Monday to support the push for full maternity services to continue.