National’s Health Spokesperson Michael Woodhouse and Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker today announced National will reinstate full services at the Lumsden Maternity Centre if elected in 2020.

“Providing full birthing services at Lumsden is vital for the health, wellbeing and safety of mothers, babies and their families. That’s why National is committed to reinstating Lumsden as a full birthing unit should we be re-elected in 2020,” Mr Woodhouse says.

“Hamish Walker and I have been advocating for this community to ensure that the downgrade of the centre wasn’t pursued. Unfortunately our efforts to convince the Health Minister and the Government of the need for these services have been continuously ignored and the Health Minister has not taken any action.

“The proposed closure highlights serious safety concerns, mothers will be forced to endure major delays in getting maternity care, with some having to travel up to 130km to give birth This should not be acceptable - this centre is indispensable to its rural community.”

“Lumsden Maternity Centre is crucial to the Southland community and this announcement provides safety and optimal care for new mothers and babies. I am delighted for the families who will be able to use this centre in the future if we are elected in 2020,” Mr Walker says.

“Despite a strong outcry from the Southland community to stop the downgrade, which was illustrated in my petition to save the Lumsden Maternity Centre and the protest march I led through Lumsden, the Government did not listen.

“This Government is carrying out a sustained attack on rural communities by increasing fuel taxes and stripping transport funding from the regions. The decision to downgrade Lumsden makes it clear that it doesn’t care to meet or even recognise the needs of rural communities.

“With population growth in the region set to increase significantly and approximately 1000 new homes planned for the Kingston housing development, the need for maternity services in this region will be more crucial than ever.

“I am incredibly proud of everyone who has fought for the centre. While the Government has not listened, National have and we are proud to provide much-needed security for the future of maternity care in Southland.”

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