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Wanganui and Palmerston North DHB midwives are united in their opposition the loss of full maternity services from Whanganui Hospital.
Members of the midwifery union MERAS, say if implemented, the change proposal will deprive Whanganui women of a secondary care maternity facility and the safety of so many more women travelling to give birth in Palmerston North is more compromised than under the current arrangements.
MERAS spokesperson, Bernard McIlhone, says they are particularly concerned about the distance which women will be away from family, if they have to transfer either while pregnant or while in labour to Palmerston North.
“Families will be separated around the time of birth. There are no facilities for whanau to stay in Palmerston North, they will experience increased stress, a lack of family support and wellbeing, which will impact upon outcomes for the mother and baby,” he says.
He adds that continuity of care will be compromised and women will receive fragmented support, particularly amongst those with the highest clinical and cultural need.
The proposal significantly underestimates the number of women who will deliver in Palmerston North at a hospital that doesn’t have adequate staffing or capacity to accommodate the up to 400 additional births expected to come from Wanganui. McIlhone says existing infrastructure at Palmerston North Hospital won’t cope and when there are no beds available, many will be turned away and sent further afield.
The DHB’s are urged to start a process of genuine engagement with the Whanganui and Palmerston North communities before it is too late.
MERAS member midwives will be supporting their community in the march from Palmerston North Square on Monday (tomorrow) at noon and a hikoi is to be held in Whanganui on Wednesday 4 April.
ENDS For more information contact Bernard McIlhone on 0274522987