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Official documents released this week show the Southern District Health Board should never have closed the Lumsden primary birthing clinic and the service ought to be restored, the trust which operated the clinic says.
However, its plea has fallen on deaf ears, with the DHB saying it will not revisit its decision.
Lumsden Maternity Centre, controversially, became a maternal and child hub earlier this year following the SDHB’s region-wide review of maternity services.
Local Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker has fought a vigorous campaign against the reclassification of Lumsden, and this week released a tranche of Ministry of Health and SDHB documents he argued showed the decision was pre-ordained and based on flawed information,
The Northern Southland Medical Trust operated the primary birthing unit and spokeswoman Carrie Adams said the documents released by Mr Walker showed that Ministry of Health officials were poorly advising the Minister of Health with inaccurate and misleading information.
‘‘They fail to mention that the National Maternity Monitoring Group opposed the closure of Lumsden, and they continually referred to numbers of births rather than numbers of pregnancies, as per the service coverage schedule.’’
A recently released independent report into the SDHB’s implementation of its plan identified several major failings.
‘‘The NSMT wants the SDHB to take heed of the recommendations in the reports,’’ Ms Adams said.
‘‘But more importantly we would like them to stop spending SDHB funds on reviews and on defending a flawed model of care and return to full services at Lumsden.’’
That seems a forlorn hope as SDHB chief executive Chris Fleming declined to reconsider the board’s decision.
“Given all the competing demands we face, providing 24/7 staffing at Lumsden Maternity Centre for less than one birth a week was not and is not the most effective use of maternity resources in our district,’’ Mr Fleming said.
“We are therefore not revisiting the decision around the Lumsden Maternal and Child Hub.”
The SDHB needed to consider the needs of women and communities across its entire district, and its highest priority for further investment was maternity infrastructure in Central Otago and the lakes region, Mr Fleming said.
“As part of a wider network of care, maternal and child hubs such as that at Lumsden offer a way to ensure there are resources to support maternity care and rapid unplanned births in more locations across our large district, and we thank the efforts of those who are working together to make the most of these resources.
‘‘Our focus is on learning from the challenges we have faced and implementing our primary maternity system of care in the interests of all the communities we serve.”