Discussions over helicopter transfers continue

Midwives and southern region emergency care providers met yesterday to discuss a controversial proposed change which could result in midwives being replaced by paramedics on rescue helicopter missions to women giving birth.

Midwives were advised of the policy change in August and reacted angrily, one saying that paramedics were not trained to deal with the range of emergency situations that a midwife was.

A meeting of concerned parties was held soon after, which resulted in the suspension of the policy change, which was scheduled to come into effect on September 1.

That meeting agreed there would be a six-week period to gather feedback on the proposed change.

The follow-up gathering yesterday agreed to keep the proposed changes on hold while stakeholders were consulted.

The proposed protocols were to apply to emergency transfers from primary birthing units and rural locations, and not to transfers between Southland and Dunedin Hospital, or to northern hospitals. Midwives would be carried on helicopters only in situations where a paramedic deemed it necessary, rather than as standard practice.

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