Off you go, mothers

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Elderly exiled – now pregnant mums deported

Under-pressure hospital mid­­­­­­wives are putting the squeeze on pregnant Queenstown women to have babies in Invercargill.

Gill Jones, who’s due on December 21, was shocked when her Lakes District Hospital midwife told her she had to give birth down south.

“I was adamant I wanted to birth in Queenstown if all was well, it was just such a shock to be told this.

“It’s not just old people, it’s all of us that [Southland District Health Board] are trying to get rid of.”

She says most of the 15 women in her antenatal class planned to birth at Frankton’s LDH.

But many mums had now been told their babies would only be delivered in normal working hours, Monday to Friday, and they’d have to go to Invercargill if only one midwife was on.

If they birthed at LDH, they’d have to go home straight afterwards.

Jones: “These are first-time mothers as well.

“That’s actually scary when you don’t know what to expect in the first place and you’re being booted out.”

Jones is led to believe the problem is a midwife shortage. “We’re just getting shortchanged again.

“Something’s got to be done about it, the way the population’s growing.”

She recalls in recent years SDHB pleading for Queenstown women to birth at LDH or risk losing local maternity facilities.

Jones has since organised a home birth with an independent midwife.

Another mum-to-be, Kat Mills, hoped to birth at LDH but for medical reasons is going to Invercargill.

Mills: “A couple of girls in my antenatal class have already been told there’s a very high chance they will be going to Invercargill automatically.

“I think it’s finally come to a head that quite a lot of us are due at the same time.

“I think [SDHB] sort of freaked out a little about it.”

She says it’s tough for women who don’t have family in Invercargill.

“We’ve sort of got a so-called birthing unit here but it seems silly to have it if they can’t look after all cases.”

SDHB’s Leanne Samuel says LDH has only two midwives, plus casuals backfilling roster gaps.

“We are currently recruiting and hope to have two more part-time midwives who may be available from December.

“In the interim, the midwives have advised some mothers who are due to give birth in late December there’s a possibility they may have to give birth at Southland Hospital instead of LDH, if the midwifery posts are not in place in time.”

DHB superboss Brian Rousseau told SDHB’s board last month “that Queenstown did not have the population base to support many of the services that [residents] would like to have in the area.”