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The fight for improved maternity services in Wanaka has just stepped up, Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean says.

“I have just written letters to both Health Minister David Clark and the Southern District Health Board, highlighting urgent community concerns about Wanaka maternity services.

“I am vigorously pursuing this issue because I am gravely concerned about the current midwife shortage and because I believe the Wanaka community has a strong case for change.

“Uncertainty continues around the one full and two part-time locums, which the SDHB has recently brought in, because their contracts are only short term and expire at the end of October.

“Wanaka mothers need these contracts extended to least six, if not 12 months, giving more certainty to pregnant women trying to secure a midwife for births next year.

“Already March 2019 is being highlighted as a flash-point with an extraordinary number of babies due at this time and no guarantee there will be sufficient midwives to cope.

“I have also asked for the immediate funding of a telehealth clinic in Wanaka, for pre-natal consultations, which will save local mothers a huge amount of stress and unnecessary travel to Dunedin.

“Unfortunately the SDHB’s promise of a Mother and Child hub for Wanaka will do little to help this community, or improve the very real risk that mothers and babies face when working with stressed and exhausted midwives.

“The SDHB has said that for its hub to be upgraded to a primary birthing unit, Wanaka will have to have more on-call midwives, while local midwives have said they will not return to work because of the on-going lack of support and the absence of a 24-hour birthing facility.

“I think it’s time the SDHB urgently moved to meet this community half way and focussed its attention on giving this community what it desperately needs - before it’s too late.”

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