Lumsden loses its maternity centre
Lumsden Maternity Centre has closed because staff refuse to work without a local midwife.
The centre closed last Wednesday.
Registered nurse Dot Stevens has worked at the centre for the past 16 years and loves the facility but she said things needed to change.
"The New Zealand Nurses Organisation said it is unsafe to be working there without a midwife within 45 minutes of the centre," she said.
"We just don't feel we should be working when it isn't safe. The ambulance isn't on all the time and there is no backup."
The Northern Southland Medical Trust had announced it would move to an independent maternity care model - outsourcing its birthing care to contractual lead maternity carers.
But after Lumsden resident midwife Michelle Scott was made redundant the area was forced to rely on services from midwives located up to an hour away.
Te Anau midwife Nicky Pealing was the only midwife left to cover the facility 24 hours a day.
"It came down to safety in the end, we couldn't find anyone to cover me and I am up to an hour away," Ms Pealing said.
Women due to give birth at Lumsden this month have had to revise their birthing plans.
"The women who are due this month are very angry, they are so vulnerable," Ms Pealing said.
She said she was unable to comment further because her contract, which was to finish in December, was terminated.
"They lumped me with a termination notice; you've got a choice - you either do this [continue working] or you have breached your contract."
The trust confirmed its main objective was to reopen the facility and trustees will meet with concerned parties on Friday.
Trustee John Douglas said the trust sympathised with anxious mothers who felt displaced since the centre closed.
"We need to take baby steps and reopen on honest, sustainable footing - it has got to work for the community and the trust," he said.
The trust could not comment further on staffing and rostering until after Friday's meeting, he said.
Southern District Health Board planning and funding director Sharon Kletchko said the board had been notified of the closure because of staffing issues but the trust was not in breach of the contract it had with the health board.
"We are working with them and the midwives to achieve a solution, including meeting them to discuss proposals."
The centre's closure came just five days before the Southern District Health Board announced it had employed a new maternity quality and safety programme officer.
Nicola Keast has taken on the role, which is funded by the Ministry of Health.
She would work with staff and providers to effectively co-ordinate quality-focused activities across the district's maternity services.
"I have a first-hand appreciation for the challenges of the geographical spread of the district and the complexities that Southern District Health Board is tasked with serving," Ms Keast said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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