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The Southern District Health Board’s latest maternity services package for Wanaka still falls well short of the mark, Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean says.

“If this package is about equity of access to maternity services across the Southern region, then clearly for Wanaka women it is sadly lacking.

“Extra funding for midwives is a step in the right direction but it doesn’t make Wanaka any less of a remote location for expectant mothers and still leaves the town in crisis with only one midwife.

“The SDHB has only addressed part of the issue here. The need for a full birthing unit in Wanaka is also still a priority.

“Let’s not forget that in an emergency birthing situation Upper Clutha mothers face up to a four-hour drive to their nearest base hospital in Dunedin.

“Funding to attract and retain midwives is essential, but having the security of a fully equipped and staffed birthing unit in Wanaka is crucial.

“I will be seeking a definitive timeline from the SDHB on the implementation of this support package. It has been almost two months since the Board announced Wanaka’s new Maternal and Child hub and still nothing has been happened in the town.

“Wanaka midwives have been asking the Board for Tele-health clinics for well over a year now and they are still only being vaguely referred to in this package as ‘the next step’ from the implementation team.

“Big announcements are fine, but it’s real change that Wanaka midwives and mothers want to see.”

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