Decision on Lumsden Maternity’s future delayed

Northern Southland Health Company director Mark Whelan (left), chairwoman Carrie Adams, and director Robyn Crooks met with National Party leader Simon Bridges and Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker in Gore last Friday. PHOTO: Supplied

A final decision on the future of Lumsden Maternity Centre will be postponed for a couple more weeks.

The Southern DHB is postponing a final decision on its model of Southern maternity care until mid- to late June, saying it needs more time to review the information at hand.

Southern DHB executive director for primary and community Lisa Gestro said the DHB had received a lot of input on its Southern Maternity System of Care Proposal since it was released in March.

She said government had also announced its budget and new funding for midwifery, primary care, and DHBs to consider.

"As a consequence of all this additional information, we’ve decided to postpone releasing the final primary maternity plan. This is to ensure we adequately review and evaluate all information that is available to us," she said.

The proposal that was released in March would controversially eliminate birthing services and post-natal stays at Lumsden Maternity Centre.

Last week National Party leader Simon Bridges met with three directors of the Northern Southland maternity unit.

The 25-minute meeting at Gore's RSA building brought about an assurance from the Opposition that Mr Bridges would raise the issue directly with central government as the centre awaits to hear about its future.

Mr Bridges met with the directors as part of his first tour of Southland as party leader. 

Northern Southland Health Company chairwoman Carrie Adams said the directors shared the centre's uncertain future with Mr Bridges. 

Mr Bridges said he got a better sense of what the issues at Lumsden were and the "tragedy it would be if it was lost". 

"It's been there for a long time, it's providing an essential service. And we're really only talking about $400,000 a year to keep it open, which is peanuts in the scheme of a government that's inherited some of the best books in the Western world, and it's got a $3 billion surplus," Mr Bridges said.

"I said that we would raise it with either the Minister of Health or the Prime Minister, hopefully in Parliament."

Clutha Southland MP Hamish Walker, who also attended, had helped organise the meeting. 

"Because it's such an important issue for our community, I wanted Simon to meet them and look them in the eye and hear from them personally," Mr Walker said.

Last month Lumsden Maternity began emailing Ms Ardern every day with a personal story of the impact the centre has had on local families in an effort to advocate directly to the Prime Minister.

"Given that [Ms Ardern has] not come out and made any real definitive statement on it, it would be good to know where she sits," Mrs Adams said.


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