SDHB 'committed to helping new mums'
About 13 per cent of new mothers at Southland Hospital are referred to maternal mental health services, the Southern District Health Board says.
The figure was released last night after Southland Hospital paediatrician Vili Sotutu claimed up to 20 per cent of new mothers at the hospital were referred to mental health services, which he described as a "very concerning figure".
And there was pressure for new mothers to be discharged from public hospitals early, he said.
The issues highlighted a need for continued parenting support in Southland, he said.
The number of mothers in Southland being referred to mental health services was similar to the rest of the country and internationally, Dr Sotutu said.
Mothers were referred for a range of reasons, including anxiety issues and postnatal depression.
Dr Sotutu emphasised he was not criticising the Southern District Health Board and said maternal mental health services in Southland were doing a great job.
Southern District Health Board directory of midwifery Jenny Humphries said the board and a range of other primary health professionals were all committed to ensuring new mothers and their families had access to assistance and advice through what could be a stressful postnatal period.
"We are always supportive of new ways of making sure people are aware of and able to access this help."
During the past two years, about 13 per cent of women birthing in Southland had been referred to the board's maternal mental health team, who did an excellent job, she said.
The average length of stay after giving birth at Southland Hospital was 2.19 days, which had stayed the same for the past four years.
But there was a significant variation in the length of stay and those decisions were case by case in consultation with women and their families, she said.
Dr Sotutu said the issues he had raised were unrelated to those raised by the father of injured 4-week-old baby Noklair Milton.
Noklair's father, David Milton, said his wife had gone to Southland Hospital on Sunday, September 1, in pain and, after undergoing several tests, she was told she had postnatal depression and mastitis, was sent home and told to see her GP on the Monday.
The baby's throat was slashed early that Monday. Police said Mr and Mrs Milton were home when a "violent attack" on the baby took place and they were not seeking anyone else.
Mr Milton has since been highly critical of the treatment his wife had received at Southland Hospital on the Sunday morning and said he was exploring his legal options.
Dr Sotutu's comments follow the release of a parenting report by the University of Otago's centre for research on children and families.
The report outlines the work by the Our Way Southland Strengthening Parenting in Southland project.
The strengthening parenting project involves 24 government, health and community agencies working together to develop a regional parenting strategy.
Our Way Southland regional co-ordinator Dr Aaron Fox said the report was the end of a three-year process of making sure the project was targeting the key issues for parenting in Southland.
The key finding in the report was that bringing together sector representatives to collaborate on an issue was working.
The report will be presented to the Shared Services Forum meeting on September 27.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Check out what's on in your community or post an upcoming event.
Subscribe to a digital replica of The Southland Times.
Southland Times subscriber news and information.
Click here for information about advertising with The Southland Times.