Support For St George's Petition Grows

Monday 28 March 2022, 5:36PM
By RedPR


Midwives who launched a petition on Friday to save St George’s maternity service in Christchurch are thrilled with the huge support from right across the country.

Rata Midwives started the petition and spokesperson, Sheena Ross, says they have been inundated with messages from people wanting to help.

“We’ve had phone calls, emails and the number of signatures has been increasing steadily, especially after Gemma McCaw became involved,” says Sheena. “She has personal experience of being able to make a choice when it comes to where you have your baby, and Gemma knows understands how important that is.”

Sheena Ross says primary birthing services should be increasing their capacity, not reducing.

“The Burwood primary birthing unit was the most well-used primary unit in the city. When it closed in 2016, St George’s was then the only one in the city and it is often over-subscribed. Giving birth at a primary unit or at home enhances outcomes for well-women with uncomplicated pregnancies. We are at a loss to understand why another key part of women’s health services is under threat, yet again,” says Sheena Ross who worked at Burwood until the primary unit closed.

The Rata midwives have supported a significant number of women to have their babies at St George’s, and say primary maternity units provide a vital service for communities. 

“Not only are the outcomes better for mums and babies, but the whole whānau is a key part of the experience. Primary units are not like the main hospital; they provide a home away from home environment with the expert support of midwives. The loss of post-natal care option in a central city primary unit (with St George’s current reduced service) is reducing options for women,” says Sheena Ross. “We should be building more primary birthing service capacity; in fact we should have done this before Burwood closed six years ago.

St George’s was to have announced a decision any day now but it is understood the date has been extended.


Rata Midwives are Sheena Ross, Jackie Coursey, Candice Milner, Rachel Tong, Heidi Goebbels, Jo Ryde, Jo Wihongi, Kirsten Read and Hayley Gimblett.