Midwife funding progress ‘minimal’

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A Wanaka mother who petitioned Parliament for more funding and facilities for rural midwives says progress has been ‘‘minimal’’.
Iona Bentley said 3843 people signed her petition which was presented to the New Zealand House of Representatives in May 2018.
The Health Committee considered her petition in December last year and was concerned about the time being taken to establish a child and maternal hub in Wanaka.
The Southern District Health Board had yet to complete refurbishment of the hub to be situated on Gordon Rd which would include two dedicated consulting rooms and a room to manage emergencies and precipitous births.
General manager of primary care and population health Mary Cleary-Lyons said work was taking some time due to the extent of refurbishment required and was committed to completing the development this year, but did not give a more specific timeframe.
Current facilities were situated within the medical centre where a room was available for lead maternity carers.
Mrs Bentley said this was no different from what was available before she began the petition.
‘‘In terms of resources, they [the health board] have taken over paying the rent on a space that the Wanaka midwives group previously rented.’’
This space was very small, almost only bigger than a dining room table — ‘‘it’s tiny’’.
‘‘Ultimately we need a birthing unit.’’
Mrs Bentley said although there had been some progress it was ‘‘minimal’’ and seemed like the ‘‘ambulance at the bottom of the cliff’’.
Ms Cleary Lyons said primary maternity facilities with capacity for birth and postnatal care needed to be carefully considered for the whole Central Lakes area.
The board was working with the Central Lakes Locality Network and other stakeholders to develop a plan to engage with the community beginning next month, with a view to developing recommendations by mid­2020.
Mrs Bentley said the members of the network didn’t include any midwives.
‘‘As far as I am aware it has some very bright administrative people, but what is critical going forward for that group is that it listens to the community voice. It listens to the consumers.’’