Birthing unit vow fails to satisfy

A National Party promise to provide half the money for a birthing unit in Wanaka, if it is elected next year, would only partly solve maternity service problems.

That was the verdict of a some who listened to party leader Simon Bridges and Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean outline National's proposal, at a meeting in Wanaka yesterday.

Mr Bridges and Ms Dean suggested a National government would put up half of the estimated half a million dollars of capital for the unit, with the other half being raised by a charitable trust.

Asked if providing maternity services was not the job of the Southern District Health Board, Ms Dean said: "It is, and they aren't."

New mothers Iona Bentley (left), of Wanaka, and Kristi James (with 3-month-old baby Makai), of...
New mothers Iona Bentley (left), of Wanaka, and Kristi James (with 3-month-old baby Makai), of Hawea Flat, discuss maternity services with National leader Simon Bridges and Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean. PHOTO: MARK PRICE
She pointed to other community-owned health facilities that "worked extremely well", such as the privately owned Charlotte Jean Maternity Hospital in Alexandra.

Ms Dean said a community-owned facility in Wanaka was more likely than a DHB facility to deliver what the community wanted.

Mr Bridges noted Wanaka's growth, and that 153 babies were born in the district over the past year.

"You deserve to have the sort of services that are comparable with what happens in Auckland central or happens in Wellington central."

He acknowledged politicians generally "liked bricks and mortar", and Save Our Wanaka Midwives Group member Kimberley Davis took him up on that point.

"It's a far more complex solution than just building a primary birthing unit in one town.

"It's communities all over New Zealand that are remote from hospitals - from birthing facilities - like Wanaka is."

Ms Davis said there was an "enormous amount of support" for a birthing unit in Wanaka but there was a feeling "we shouldn't have to be personally accountable as a community for providing what is a fundamental health service".

"Simon Bridges making a promise that if we vote National into government, the maternity crisis will be fixed, it rings a bit hollow to me.

"This is an issue that has been building for much longer than the last two years," Ms Davis said.


Wheres Philip of Greymouth here? We haven't heard much of him lately!

We are going to get more of this from the Nats over the next year - cos they know most of the voters have short memories. So let me remind you . . .

The Nats ran down health services for 9 years and only invested in roads with their 90 Billion of borrowing.

Its not buildings that are needed but Midwives (who again never got a pay rise).

Also let me remind you that the Nats set up a funding formula for health on a population basis. So SDHB gets not much as it only has 330,000 residents.

Sadly this barking at passing cars by Soimun gets exacerbated by the media who have to ask his opinion on everything. He opens his mouth & loses votes.

So what has Jacinda done - given nurses a wage rise and Midwives are coming. Rebuilding Dunedin Hospital (without private partnership), spent over 80 Million on new rescue helicopters, increased massively finding for our 2 ambulance services, purchasing 12 new cancer scanners . . . its a start. Health is a bottomless pit.

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