Concerns for future of Lumsden Maternity Centre

About 100 people gathered at a public meeting to discuss the future of the Lumsden Maternity Centre.
Kavinda Herath/Fairfax NZ

About 100 people gathered at a public meeting to discuss the future of the Lumsden Maternity Centre.

Concerns for the welfare of pregnant mothers, and where they would go for pre and postnatal care were raised at a tense meeting to discuss the future of the Lumsden Maternity Centre on Tuesday night. 

The future of the centre has been in question several times.

Northern Southland Health Company chairwoman Carrie Adams said Tuesday's meeting was called to discuss funding issues and a lack of trustees and directors on the Northern Southland Medical Trust.

About 100 people attended.

The health company was doing "everything to keep this facility going" but it was becoming increasingly more difficult to find midwives to stay in Lumsden, Adams said. 

The town's isolation was its largest problem, she said.

The trust was in discussions with the Southern District Health Board about how to cut costs, but the bulk of the money went on wages, and all costs were going up, Adams said.

People at the meeting raised concerns on where they would go to get postnatal care if the centre was to shut down on July 31 when the contract between the health company and the health board expires.

One resident, who is due in early August, said she was concerned for when she had her caesarean and how she would be cared for following the procedure.

The centre provided services including pre and postnatal assessments, and classes.

"You can't put a dollar value on those things".

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Other residents said they were concerned about where they would go after having their babies.

Southern District Health Board planning and funding acting executive director Liz Disney said there was "ongoing and open dialogue" about the future of medical services in the region.

Challenges of distance, cost and how services were used would be looked at, she said.

"I want the same thing as you, high quality services that you can trust," she said.

The Northern Southland Health Company owns and operates Lumsden Maternity Centre. 

The current contract between the company and the SDHB to run Lumsden Maternity expires on July 31 after being rolled over three times. The amount of funding received has been frozen since 2011.

The directors of the company are all volunteers. Lumsden Maternity provides ante-natal services, during pregnancy, birthing and post-natal care to women in the Lumsden and Te Anau areas.

In April, Adams said they were "vital" services to the Northern Southland community.

One Southland mum, Sarah Phillips, was lucky to have the centre there when daughter Emily came in a hurry.

She hoped the centre would not close and planned to hopefully return to the centre to have another child in the future, Phillips said.

"We had planned to go to Invercargill for a hospital delivery for our first baby's birth but we ended up having no real choice but to go to Lumsden Maternity Centre, otherwise Emily would have been born  in the car  on the way to hospital," she said.

But with the resignation of four of the centre's directors and a lack of funding there were concerns if it would remain.

Funding the company currently receives under its contract with the Southern District Health Board (SDHB) was "not sustainable" and there was not enough volunteer directors to manage the maternity centre under the current model, she said.

The SDHB undertook a "Primary Maternity Service Project" in 2016 with the aim of strengthening its primary maternity services.

Consultation meetings were held in September with stakeholders. The SDHB undertook to finalise this report in November.

 

 

 

 

 

 - Stuff

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