Lack of beds forcing new mums out of hospital early

Chelsea Daniels,
Publish Date
Sunday, 3 February 2019, 9:14AM
A lack of beds at Middlemore Hospital has advocates concerned. (Photo / NZ Herald)
A lack of beds at Middlemore Hospital has advocates concerned. (Photo / NZ Herald)

There are fears more and more women are being pushed out of hospital too soon after giving birth.

In the year to June 2018, 1171 women stayed at Middlemore Hospital for less than 48 hours after delivery, when they should've stayed anywhere up to 72 hours.

Counties Manukau DHB is trying to work out a solution, as "bed availability is not sufficient to meet current or projected demand".

Currently, there are 45 beds on the maternity floor, with 22 antenatal and flexi high risk postnatal beds on 'Maternity South', and 23 postnatal beds on 'Maternity North'.

However, there's currently a shortfall of 11 postnatal beds, including the five beds required for women needing longer postnatal stays as per Ministry of Health specifications.

READ MORE: New mum breaks leg after being 'forced' to walk at Middlemore

Mothers Matter spokesperson Dame Lesley Max says she knows of many cases where women have felt obliged to leave.

"Some super human women this may suit, but I don't think the majority of women who have just given birth want to think that they are now are faced with these requirements to leave."

Dame Lesley says women need to know their rights.

"I just know of so many cases where this has been the case, where a woman who has just given birth feels obliged to go have a shower and be ready to leave."

She says she's been concerned about this since the 90s.

"And already then I was drawing attention to the inadequate conditions of post-birth care."

Dame Lesley says more funding should be made available to birthing centres, which could bed low-risk births and ease demand for hospitals.

The shortfall for postnatal beds was projected to rise to 16 beds by the end of last year, and to 18 beds by the year ending 2019/20.

After the Galbraith Building was declared earthquake prone it was said a new Women's Health building will be required within the next ten years

But, completion is projected to be at least five years away.

A near $5 million plan has been floated for Middlemore Hospital to use a vacant 30 bed ward to house new mothers, which would help with the rising demand for beds.

Statistics from 2014 to June 2018 show the caesarean section rate has increased by two per cent, babies born weighing less that 2.5kg has increased by four per cent to 7.5 per cent, and the number of unbooked women needing to give birth has increased as well



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