5100 sign Lumsden maternity centre petition

File photo by Mandy Cooper.
File photo by Mandy Cooper.
The future of Lumsden Maternity Centre remains under consideration, but 5100 people have already made up their minds it should remain open.

The Southern District Health Board is considering a proposed plan for a new primary maternity system of care, with the initial draft seeing Lumsden Maternity Centre change from an in-patient primary birthing unit to a maternal and child hub.

The proposal met with stern resistance from Southlanders, with the SDHB extending its consultation period after a stormy public meeting in the town.

A petition to save the centre was launched when the SDHB announced the proposal, and yesterday local MP Hamish Walker presented it, with more than 5100 signatures, to Health Minister David Clark.

The extended consultation ended last week, with the SDHB saying it had given people more time to have their say due to the high number of submissions.

Last night its executive director of the strategy, primary and community directorate, Lisa Gestro, said more than 200 submissions have been received.

``We're reading and evaluating all input and questions received. Reviewing birth and pregnancy numbers, as well as catchments boundaries, will be a part of our review process.''

An updated plan is expected by the end of next month, Ms Gestro said.

Last week the board said it had always been clear changes to maternity services were proposals and it wanted to hear from affected communities.

``It is important that maternity services in Lumsden are not considered in isolation, rather as part of an integrated network of primary and secondary maternity services, supported by transport and transfer services.'' it said.

``The system should also strengthen support for lead maternity carers and community midwives, providing more facilities, equipment and resources in the community.''

Mr Walker said a birth at the Lumsden centre on Friday demonstrated why it should remain open as is.

``A Queenstown couple would have faced a roadside birth on their way to Invercargill if it wasn't for the Lumsden Maternity Centre,'' he said.

mike.houlahan@odt.co.nz

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