Near-misses high­light mid­wife pres­sure

Central Otago Mirror - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - ADAM DUDDING AND JAMIE SMALL

Lisa John­stone’s wa­ter broke in Wanaka at 1.30pm on Tues­day Au­gust 2. It took her more than four hours to get to hos­pi­tal for her emer­gency cae­sarean-sec­tion.

John­stone al­ready knew her baby was in a breech po­si­tion, and had booked in for an elec­tive C-sec­tion, but she went into labour 10 days early. Her mid­wife, Deb Har­vey, called Dunedin Hos­pi­tal and asked for a he­li­copter trans­fer.

‘‘They wanted us to take an am­bu­lance,’’ said John­stone.

Am­bu­lances have im­por­tant med­i­cal equip­ment, but are a slow op­tion for a trans­fer. The am­bu­lance ar­rived from Cromwell, around an hour after John­stone’s wa­ter broke. The plan at this stage was to change am­bu­lance twice en-route. ’’That’s why my mid­wife was re­ally cam­paign­ing to get a he­li­copter. She could see things were hap­pen­ing quite quickly.’’

Mid­wives around the coun­try are fight­ing for recog­ni­tion of the pres­sures they are un­der. After the mid­wives filed High Court ac­tion, the Gov­ern­ment backed down and agreed to go into me­di­a­tion to dis­cuss equal pay and con­di­tions.

John­stone’s case was one of two re­cent near-misses in­volv­ing trans­fers of ex­pec­tant moth­ers in Cen­tral Otago. In the other case, a mid­wife tried to ar­range for a mother to make a two-and-a-half hour am­bu­lance trans­fer from Queen­stown to In­ver­cargill, but was told In­ver­cargill couldn’t take her. In­stead the am­bu­lance was di­rected to Dunedin – a four-hour jour­ney.

Even­tu­ally St John or­gan­ised a he­li­copter to come from Queen­stown. John­stone ar­rived at Dune- din Hos­pi­tal about 6pm, by which time she was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing nearcon­stant con­trac­tions. If Har­vey had driven John­stone to Dunedin in a car, she would have ar­rived about 5pm.

‘‘If you break a leg on Cardrona at­tempt­ing some­thing you can’t do, a chop­per will come and take you to Dunedin. But if it’s a mother and baby, the pri­or­ity isn’t there.’’

Leanne Sa­muel, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of nurs­ing and mid­wifery at South­ern DHB, said she was un­able to dis­cuss in­di­vid­ual pa­tient’s care.

‘‘Pa­tient safety is our pri­or­ity. We are aware of the chal­lenge in meet­ing the ma­ter­nity needs for this ru­ral re­gion, and are con­tin­u­ing to ex­plore ways of en­hanc­ing emer­gency and trans­port op­tions.’’

CELIA CROS­BIE

Lisa John­stone, left, with her 11-day-old daugh­ter, who is yet to be named, and mid­wife Deb Har­vey.

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