There has been no real improvement to maternity services in Wanaka in months and there’s still a long way to go before services are safe, Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean says.
“Despite promises made eight months ago by the Health Minister and the Southern District Health Board of improved maternity services and a new Mother and Child Hub for Wanaka there has been no significant steps taken to achieve this.
"Inadequate staffing of the maternity services is still an issue. Although the SDHB has this month secured a second midwife for the area, recommended safe levels suggest one lead maternity carer for 40 women, meaning that at least two more full time midwives are needed at a minimum.
“I'm concerned that women's safety is being compromised as a result. By year's end there will have been almost 200 mothers and babies requiring maternity services in the Wanaka area with the numbers only expected to grow in 2019.
"It's also been eight months since a new mother and child hub for the area was announced with much fanfare, but local midwives and mothers have had little communication about when this hub will be developed, or what the proposed facility will mean for them.
“Without a full birthing unit they still face a massive four-hour drive to the nearest base hospital in Dunedin, and because of staffing shortages are now expected to make this trip on their own without an accompanying midwife.
“Despite what David Clark and the SDHB might like people to believe, the serious risks faced by Wanaka mothers and their babies remain the same.
“The distress and concern for Wanaka mothers has not gone away, while the promise of improved maternity services in the Upper Clutha is moving at a snail’s pace. They still have nowhere appropriate for emergency births in Wanaka and there still aren’t enough midwives to adequately serve the number of birthing mothers.
“I’m putting David Clark and the SDHB on notice – the situation in Wanaka needs attention before a real tragedy occurs in this town.”