Midwives ruling upsets residents

EMERGENCY WORRIES: Michelle Scott, a former midwife at the Lumsden Maternity Centre.
EMERGENCY WORRIES: Michelle Scott, a former midwife at the Lumsden Maternity Centre.

Poll: The Lumsden Maternity Centre will no longer employ fulltime midwives to service the facility, outraging some of the town's residents.

The Northern Southland Medical Trust did not consult its community before deciding to make its two fulltime midwives redundant.

The centre will remain open and skilled midwives, known as lead maternity carers, will be contracted to do the work but it appears unlikely they will be based in Lumsden.

Community members, who recently raised $23,000 for the centre in two months, said they were outraged the board did not consult them.

But trust chairman Trevor Humphries said the community had elected the 10 board trustees to make the decisions.

"We have been entrusted to look after this facility for the community and this comes down to a business decision," he said.

The Lumsden Maternity Centre was just falling in line with all other Southland hospitals, because the current model had been "tough and inflexible".

"This process has taken nine months and we have had to make the exhausting decision to now contract independent lead maternity carers."

Mother of three Rochelle Dillion has given birth to all her children at the Lumsden Maternity Centre and said she couldn't believe the decision was made.

"What I can't understand is why the trust have made significant change to the structure without consulting the community first, particularly considering the community has always supported them.

"Unless you ask, you don't know, and they didn't ask.

The community could have done something to keep a midwife employed for six months until something else was arranged, she said.

Michelle Scott said she was the resident midwife at the Lumsden Maternity Centre for six years before being made redundant last month.

She had been available to the centre 24 hours a day, seven days a week in case of emergencies.

"Last year, I delivered five Queenstown women who didn't make it to Invercargill. Now the closest midwife will be 50km away in Winton."

Under the centre's contract with the Southern District Health Board, it must be open and ready to admit a woman in labour.

Ms Scott said she hoped the trust considered how the hospital would provide care in the event of an emergency, given no lead maternity carers live in the area.

"Women risk giving birth in a car park if they don't make it to a base hospital, because our closest lead maternity carer will be 30 minutes away," she said.

Trustee Kim Basye-Dale said the centre often went months without births, and women were often sent to base hospital as good practice.

"Midwives are paid for modules of care . . . the largest share of money comes in when a baby is birthed. And when you are paying salaries for 2.5 midwives and have no births, it can be tough," she said.

The Ministry of Health and the Southern District Health Board declined to comment on funding provided to the Lumsden Maternity Centre and Northern Southland Medical Trust.


The Southland Times