Maternity unit 'really should be in Wanaka'

Some Wanaka residents are speaking out about the increasingly pricey town amid an influx of...
Photo: ODT files
The primary maternity unit in Alexandra "really should be in Wanaka", a Ministry of Health official says.

Wanaka residents have staged a long and thus far unsuccessful campaign for a primary birthing unit to be based in the rapidly growing town.

In the reorganisation of services instigated by the Southern District Health Board implementing a new maternity strategy it opted to place a maternal and child hub in Wanaka, but with the caveat that it would continue to review maternity services in the region to make sure that was the correct decision.

Last week Parliament's health select committee considered the petition of Iona Bentley, which calls for the creation of a sustainable model for rural community midwifery in Wanaka.

The issue of services in Wanaka was raised at an earlier session where the future of the Lumsden Maternity Centre was discussed.

Ministry principal maternity adviser Bronwen Pelvin said some DHBs had maternity services in places where they were not needed.

"There is a unit sitting in Alexandra which really should be in Wanaka," she said.

Speaking to the petition, Kristi James of the group Save Our Wanaka Midwives, said until November Wanaka had only one working rural lead maternity carer for a community which was expected to have 180-200 births that year.

"The current funding model for rural midwifery is catastrophically broken ... It all sounds beautiful on paper, come work in Wanaka it's paradise, but when they see what we have, they run for the hills."

She also wanted to see progress on the hub Wanaka had been promised, as nothing seemed to have happened on that front.

The SDHB recently said it had identified premises for the new hub, but it has yet to announce where they will be.


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