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Wanaka women and their families have been let down by this Government, with its decision not to establish a birthing unit in the town, Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean says.

“Wanaka mothers and their babies are being put at risk by this Government. We know that delays in getting to maternity care can compromise outcomes and could put babies and mothers at greater risk and yet it has decided not to establish this much needed service.

“I am bitterly disappointed for local families who have campaigned hard to gain a birthing unit in their town. Instead women will continue to face a 70km drive across the sometimes treacherous Crown Range to access a primary birthing unit in Queenstown, or travel 84km to a unit in Alexandra. This is not good enough.

“Effectively local women are no better off under these new proposals than they were 12 months ago when the community first expressed grave concerns about the care available for pregnant women and their babies in the Upper Clutha.

“This is from a Government who made all sorts of pre-election promises around health and yet all they have done is cut and downsize critical care centres and put less money in the health sector this year than the previous National Government did last year.

“There is also no future consideration for the area’s dramatic population growth, nor is there any solution for the geographical isolation and associated risks faced by many expectant mothers.

“If population growth projections haven’t been taken into account by the DHB, they absolutely should have been. When we get the opportunity we will revisit this decision to ensure the families in Wanaka have the maternity services that their population require.

“In fact the Southern District Health Board’s primary maternity plan achieves nothing for Wanaka when you consider that many of the relevant submissions received have been completely ignored.

“This includes over half of all submissions which expressed concern about safety risks to women, babies and the community with increased travel and time. More than 20 per cent of the submissions expressly pointed out that Wanaka needs a primary maternity birthing unit and not a maternal and child hub.

“I have worked closely with local Wanaka women, including presenting a petition to Parliament with over 3800 signatures calling for change, and I am determined to continue the fight for better maternity services for this community.”

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