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Turner blasts maternity services

Media statement
For immediate release
Monday, 11 February 2008

Turner blasts maternity services

UnitedFuture deputy leader and health spokesperson Judy Turner says she’s appalled at the low level of support in maternity services that is now becoming standardised in New Zealand.

“I have recently seen some papers on plans to cut the number of beds planned for the maternity unit at Blenheim’s Wairau Hospital, which outline the strategies to enable hospital staff to decrease admissions, and to encourage earlier discharge rates to reduce the length of stay mums have in the facility.

“Suggestions for preventing bed shortages include postponing planned events like inductions and caesarean sections at short notice; allowing the occasional short notice discharge of woman at any time "including during the night"; setting rigid standards to articulate when and why women remain in hospital; and deliberately countering any sense a woman may have of entitlement to stay for a few days after the birth of her child.

“Even though the document acknowledges that there is clear evidence that the number of woman needing secondary care due to being clinically unwell, having mental health problems, having babies who do not feed adequately and those facing issues of rural isolation are on the increase, the plans Wairau are considering include accommodating these women and their babies in other wards or transferring them elsewhere.

“They saw no problem with the possibility of compromising infection control issues in other hospital wards.

“The plan also includes using the kitchen/lounge area provided for family as a room if the rooms are all in use.

“The plans seem to be predicated on the notion that midwives should be providing more postnatal care out in the community.

“However in large rural communities the practicality of this is questionable and for a mum with a new baby is certainly not equivalent to getting answers from a staff member in the next room.

“Surely if we are serious about child-centric policy then we need to re-think the deteriorating level of support we give to mums with babies.

“Current trends seem to be cost saving and bear no relation to the health and well-being of babies,” said Mrs Turner.


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