More birthing centres sought
More than three-quarters of Central Otago’s pregnant women gave birth outside the district in the last year.
A leading midwife claimed there was more support for skiers with broken legs than for birthing emergencies in the remote area. More birthing facilities and better transport options for complicated pregnancies could reduce risk for mothers and babies.
Of the 570 Central Otago women who gave birth between July 2015 and June 2016, just 133 did so at Central Otago maternity facilities. Most of these were at Lakes District Hospital in Queenstown and Charlotte Jean Maternity Hospital in Alexandra. Another 437 women travelled outside the district.
New Zealand College of Midwives midwifery advisor Norma Campbell said Queenstown and Wanaka were growing quickly and the area was popular with young families.
Despite this growing population, she said, the Southern District Health Board had not increased support for midwives working in Central Otago.
There were primary birthing units in Queenstown and Alex- andra, but Campbell said there should also be one in Wanaka.
The Ministry of Health requires DHBs to fund a primary maternity centre in areas more than an hour away from secondary or tertiary care where there are over 100 pregnancies a year.
‘‘There has been a catchment of over 100 pregnancies for a number of years in the Wanaka area but no apparent plans to set up a primary unit,’’ said Campbell.
The region’s midwives met with the SDHB maternity managers early in November to discuss their concerns about the transfer service for remote areas.
‘‘Despite assurances that their issues would be addressed within two weeks of the meeting, this has not occurred,’’ said Campbell.
SDHB executive director of planning and funding Sandra Boardman said both primary maternity facilities in the area had capacity for more patients.
‘‘Our primary maternity services review is considering what’s the most appropriate configuration for rural primary birthing services, including addressing the Ministry of Health’s objective to increase primary birthing across the district.’’
Central Fitness owners Alex Offen and Jonny Roberts.