Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker says the Government’s decision to downgrade the Lumsden Maternity Centre to a non-birthing unit puts mothers and babies at risk.

“What we know is that delays in getting to maternity care compromises outcomes and could put babies and mothers at greater risk. This is a risk that the Government is forcing on Clutha-Southland mothers by cutting services at Lumsden.

“When this centre closes mothers may have to travel up to 130km to give birth because this Government would not listen to the serious concerns raised by our community. This is just wrong.

“This Government talked a huge game in Opposition, talking about ‘restoring health services’ and yet all they have done is downsize critical care centres and put less money in the health sector this year than the previous National Government did last year.

“This decision to downgrade the Lumsden Maternity Hospital to a non-birthing unit is a kick in the guts to Southland and rural New Zealand, especially after they chose to prioritise $2.8 billion for tertiary students fees free and $3 billion for Shane Jones’ slush fund.

“Population growth in the region is only increasing and will continue, especially with the new 1000 odd housing development planned for Kingston. This will only increase our need for maternity services close to home.

“If population growth projections haven’t been taken into account by the DHB, they absolutely should have been. When we get the opportunity we will revisit this decision to ensure the people of the Lumsden and Central Southland have the maternity services that their population requires.

“Our community won’t give up on Lumsden and I will do everything I can to work towards maintaining the maternity services that we have.

“National’s spokesperson for Health, Michael Woodhouse and I will be meeting with the directors of the Maternity Centre on Monday to support the push for the continuation of the full maternity services at Lumsden.

“The importance of this centre is recognised by all of Southland and I will continue to have discussions with the directors and wider community for options going forward. We will not let this service be cut without a fight.”

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