Entonox ‘required’ in two of six cases: GP

Chris Fleming.
Chris Fleming.
A third of urgent cases seen at the Lumsden maternal and child hub in the weeks after it opened involved mothers who needed nitrous oxide for pain relief, newly released emails show.

On Monday it was revealed the absence of the drug at Lumsden meant a mother opted to give birth in Winton, sparking a 50km early-morning drive on a frosty road.

Southern District Health Board chief executive Chris Fleming confirmed it would be discussed at a stakeholders meeting in Gore today.

‘‘In the event that collective advice is supportive of including Entonox in the hub, then this will be actioned.’’

The board altered Lumsden from being a primary birthing unit, where the gas would have been available, to a hub as part of its region-wide review of maternity services.

On Monday it said Lumsden still did not provide the drug.

The new emails, released under the Official Information Act, are between Lumsden GP Matthew Stokes and SDHB chief nursing and midwifery officer Jane Wilson.

Ms Wilson says she has discussed the matter with Mr Fleming and has been asked to confirm the clinical decision not to stock Entonox (nitrous oxide) was based on input from the College of Midwives and the Ministry of Health.

Dr Stokes replied it was required as pain relief in situations such as suturing wounds.

‘‘I would again argue that Entonox is required, simply put, two of the six cases so far have required the Entonox and the lack there has put one woman at significant risk.’’

In a follow-up email, Dr Stokes quoted from an earlier document in which a ministry official said: ‘‘I think the requirements for a maternal child hub is a topic for discussion to clarify all our expectations.’’

Clutha Southland MP Hamish Walker, who petitioned Parliament for Lumsden’s primary birthing unit to be saved, said the emails showed the decision not to stock the drug at Lumsden was an SDHB decision.

Mr Fleming said the emails Mr Walker was referring to did not reveal what he said they did.

‘‘There was a dialogue between Jane Wilson and Matthew Stokes, and Jane indeed discussed the issue with me.

‘‘In response to Dr Stokes’ call for Entonox to be available, Jane sought further information then explained that further discussion would be required before changing the current position on this, and that the stocking of the hubs with Entonox would be reviewed following the mid-implementation review and the case reviews.’’

mike.houlahan@odt.co.nz

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