Board should get maternity recommendation next month

The much-delayed decision on the provision of maternity services in inland Otago should not be postponed again, a Southern District Health Board committee meeting heard yesterday.

The SDHB has recently held public consultation on where to place maternity services in Central Otago and the Lakes District, a process which had been stalled by strident public complaints and then by Covid-19.

The board is considering four options — a single new facility in Cromwell, a single new facility at Dunstan Hospital in Clyde, two facilities — at Charlotte Jean Maternity Hospital in Alexandra and a new facility in Wanaka — or relocating Charlotte Jean to Dunstan Hospital and building a new facility in Wanaka.

SDHB strategy, primary and community executive director Lisa Gestro told the board’s community and public health and disability committee meeting yesterday she was confident staff would make a preferred recommendation to the board for its November meeting.

"There was a delay because the public health team which is managing this is also involved in the Covid response ... but we are definitely on track," MsGestro said.

"The project team has done the work and it is almost ready to be presented."

There had been a significant amount of interest in the issue, particularly from people who lived in Wanaka and Lake Hawea, Ms Gestro said.

Issues raised included availability of midwives 24/7 at primary birthing facilities, rapid access to urgent transport such as helicopters, equity of access and population growth.

The recommendation to the board would be based on that feedback, the SDHB’s need to meet Ministry of Health requirements, safety and quality of service, workforce availability, sustainability and affordability, Ms Gestro said.

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