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National’s health spokesman Michael Woodhouse and Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker today announced National will reinstate full services at the Lumsden Maternity Centre if elected in 2020.
The Southern District Health Board decided to downgrade the centre from a primary birthing unit to a "maternal and child hub" in August, as part of its new maternity strategy, despite public outcry.
“Providing full birthing services at Lumsden is vital for the health, wellbeing and safety of mothers, babies and their families. That’s why National is committed to reinstating Lumsden as a full birthing unit should we be re-elected in 2020,” Mr Woodhouse said.
“The proposed closure highlights serious safety concerns, mothers will be forced to endure major delays in getting maternity care, with some having to travel up to 130km to give birth. This should not be acceptable - this centre is indispensable to its rural community.”
Mr Walker described the centre as "crucial" to the Southland community.
“Despite a strong outcry from the Southland community to stop the downgrade, which was illustrated in my petition to save the Lumsden Maternity Centre and the protest march I led through Lumsden, the Government did not listen," he said.
“With population growth in the region set to increase significantly and approximately 1000 new homes planned for the Kingston housing development, the need for maternity services in this region will be more crucial than ever.
“I am incredibly proud of everyone who has fought for the centre. While the Government has not listened, National have and we are proud to provide much-needed security for the future of maternity care in Southland.”