The Northern Southland Health Company (the Company), a charity, owns and operates Lumsden Maternity Centre. The directors of the Company are volunteers. Lumsden Maternity provides ante-natal services, birthing and post-natal care. These are vital services to the Northern Southland community.
Lumsden Maternity is funded by the Southern District Health Board (SDHB). In March, the SDHB proposed to cease birthing and inpatient post-natal services at Lumsden Maternity. Instead, a “Maternal and Child Hub” was proposed. The SDHB told directors on August 9 that the decision remains to downgrade Lumsden to a hub.
Directors are disappointed and concerned with the announcement for several reasons:
Our main concern is for health and safety of mothers and babies. The risk factors of ceasing births and post-natal stays at Lumsden have not been mitigated under the proposed plan.
Decreasing access to primary health care services flies in the face of initiatives to both support rural communities as well as encourage people to move from urban areas facing high housing costs to rural towns.
The Lumsden Health Centre is already a highly integrated centre with GP, physio public health and district health nurses in addition to a primary maternity facility. The proposed changes remove basic services, it doesn’t add them.
Pregnancy, birthing and post-natal statistics show that Lumsden Maternity is not a unit in decline but in fact that our numbers are strong. The outcomes achieved for mothers and babies consistently outperform national averages.
The Te Anau and Northern Southland communities have been clear that their priority is for a primary birthing unit in Lumsden, not a hub. There is no clear plan as to what form the proposed hub will take, the funding allocated to it or a successful example of a hub within the SDHB.
WHEN The Company’s current contract with the SDHB runs until the end of September 2018. The SDHB have given their assurance they are committed to continuing to provide birthing and post-natal services beyond this date to women who have booked with their LMC to go to Lumsden Maternity.
Reports requested via the OIA and the ombudsman were provided last night. Directors require time to review and analyse the significant amount of information now in hand before determining next steps. Peer review of these reports is a possibility.
Legal advice is being sought as to the viability of an application for judicial review into the process followed by the SDHB.
Directors are contacting our district council and Ministers of Parliament to discuss this decision.
Directors’ mandate remains to support the continuation of birthing and post-natal services at Lumsden Maternity.