The Waikato District Health Board is on track to decide in March whether to close maternity services in Morrinsville and Te Awamutu but has extended the public consultation period.
Those wanting a say on the fate of the Rhoda Read and Matariki maternity centres will get an extra 18 days to do so, with the board yesterday extending the consultation period to February 21, from February 3. The board will make its final decision in late March.
At Wednesday's meeting health board member Ewan Wilson moved for the extension approved after a long debate.
"It's inappropriate that we go out in mid to late December to consult with the community at the time when the country shuts down, and then suddenly we are at February 26 and making a decision on it," he said.
The board predicts cost savings of about $1.3 million if the two units are closed and "consolidated" to Hamilton. The facilities are under-used and the board says most women are choosing to give birth in Hamilton.
Critics predict women who live further afield from Hamilton than the two towns could face a dangerous race to get to the city.
Community meetings will be held on Tuesday, December 17, at 11am, in Te Awamutu at the Information Centre in Gorst St; and then at 1.30pm in Morrinsville at the Morrinsville Events Centre in Ron Ladd Place.