Lumsden Maternity Centre to stay open
Northern Southland mums-to-be can breathe a sigh of relief after an announcement that the Lumsden Maternity Centre will remain open for the foreseeable future.
On Monday, centre staff announced that they had negotiated an increase in funding from the Southern District Health Board.
The centre's future was in doubt earlier this year as the funding it received from the Southern DHB, which had been frozen since 2011, was not sustainable as staff, auditing and compliance costs rose.
The centre is run by a charity called the Northern Southland Health Company.
The directors are all volunteers but four signalled their resignation, meaning the centre could not operate under its current model.
Company chairwoman Carrie Adams said the fact the centre was staying open was a testament to the community that had fought to keep it open.
"The key now is that there was a perception that we were closing the doors on July 31, and that is not the case.
"It takes a huge weight off but there's still plenty of work to do."
The Southern DHB offered the centre a 1 per cent funding boost but she declined to say what the final increase amounted to.
The company had identified two cost-cutting measures - that a two-day stay will be recommended to mothers who have normal healthy births, and that 24-hour on-site coverage would be replaced with an on-call midwife, who would back up the lead maternity carer.
"It's a change in structure having off-site coverage and we are working really closely with staff about implementing those changes to ensure that transition goes smoothly."
The four directors had resigned but new directors had stepped up to take their place and there were now 13 on the board, she said.
Southern DHB acting executive director planning and funding Liz Disney said it has reached agreements on renewal of primary maternity contracts with Central Southland Hospital Charitable Trust, operators of Winton Maternity Centre, and Northern Southland Health Company.
The contracts will be renewed from August 1 until September 2018, Disney said.
"We are very pleased to have come to an agreement with the centre operators in Lumsden and Winton.
"A strong network of birthing services and a continued commitment to primary maternity services is among the recommendation in the primary maternity services report which Southern DHB released last month."
Jennifer Haslam, who organised a public protest rally in Te Anau against the closure of the centre, said it was "wonderful news" that the centre was staying open.
While she had not seen the detail of the new contract, she had heard positive feedback.
"It's wonderful that everyone rallied together to get a positive outcome."