Wānaka Sun       

Dean outlines local birthing unit idea

Posted at 6:00am Thursday 03 Oct, 2019 | By Allison McLean journalist@thewanakasun.co.nz

Waitaki Member of Parliament Jacqui Dean said she is moving forward with plans for a Wānaka birthing unit idea because “Upper Clutha mothers need it.”

Dean said the lack of a birthing unit in town is something she has been concerned about for 18 months. While the idea has a ways to go before coming to fruition, Dean said a local group from the community is already looking at forming a charitable trust, raising funds and meeting with midwives and mothers in the area.

“A new birthing unit will require a capital investment of about half a million dollars," said Dean. "National will provide a dollar for every dollar raised by the local community, in addition to funding $500,000 in estimated annual operating costs."

She said public involvement in the project is essential so it ensures local ownership and community buy-in around “what is effectively a significant regional asset.”

According to a spokesperson from Dean's office, local maternity services have not improved despite ongoing contact with the Southern District Health Board (SDHB) and the Health Minister. 

The spokesperson said Dean got the process started on the concept for a local birthing unit and encouraged a group of local people who are keen to run with this proposal. The idea is that the group will reportedly work with local midwives and mothers to ensure the best outcome for the community while Dean supports the initiative.

Dean said she has met with the SDHB and outlined the proposal, but specific involvement details have yet to be confirmed noting the DHB's ongoing research of Central Otago maternity service needs.

In related news, when asked for an update on the much anticipated Wānaka maternal and child hub, Mary Cleary Lyons, SDHB general manager of primary care and population health told the Wānaka Sun, “We are currently working through the design and consent process and will have a clearer understanding of the timeframe for the permanent hub once this is complete. In the meantime we are continuing to support the interim hub services and work with local midwives and health care professionals on the best configuration of the new facility.”



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