ZB

Protest planned as uncertainty over Hutt Hospital's maternity ward causes distress

Author
RNZ,
Publish Date
Fri, 17 Jun 2022, 10:51am
Hutt Hospital. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Hutt Hospital. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Protest planned as uncertainty over Hutt Hospital's maternity ward causes distress

Author
RNZ,
Publish Date
Fri, 17 Jun 2022, 10:51am

Rosie Gordon for RNZ

Families and midwives plan to march past Hutt Hospital tomorrow to demand maternity services be prioritised and uncertainty over the closure of Heretaunga Building be addressed.
They say they are still in the dark about the closure of the hospital's maternity ward a month on from an announcement that it was deemed earthquake-prone.

Officials are unclear how long services will continue to operate in Hutt Hospital's Heretaunga Building, home to a number of key services including maternity.

One expectant mother, Emma Boddy, whose baby is due in August, said the lack of information was causing stress to her and others.

"The closer I get to my due date the more nervous I am about where I am going to give birth," she said.

Boddy said if she couldn't give birth at Hutt Hospital that could mean a 25-minute drive to Wellington Hospital.

"If you're in labour in peak traffic it can be quite a long trip," she said.

Boddy is among the many calling for the DHB to shift its earthquake-prone maternity ward to the mothballed Te Awakairangi Birthing Centre, which closed last year. A petition to do just that, launched by National's Chris Bishop, has garnered 3300 signatures.

"Please reopen the birthing centre. It's literally just down the road, it's a safe alternative option," Boddy said.

The DHB says it is open to offers and it is considering options, but it has not made a decision. The DHB has engaged with Wright Family Foundation, which owns Te Awakairangi.

The foundation's Chloe Wright did not respond to RNZ's request for comment.

Midwife Susie Fothersgill said the DHB needed to improve communication with those working on the coalface too.

"It's about knowing where my transfer hospital is because if it is somewhere furhter away down the road I have to make decisions sooner," she said.

Fothersgill said the added stress from uncertainty could see burnt-out midwives move to work elsewhere. The area has lost half its midwives in the last four years.

"It adds a huge amount of stress because we just don't know and those of us who are working on the ground we just hear nothing and that's how rumours start. People are trying to fill in the gaps," she said.

Mother and spokesperson for Hutt Families for Midwives, Charlotte Curtis, sat in on a DHB Board meeting two weeks ago. She is worried the DHB is dragging its feet on a plan for the future of maternity services until the new health entity, Health NZ, takes over in July.

Curtis said Hutt Families for Midwives will hold a march past Hutt Hospital tomorrow to demand the DHB release a clear plan on how maternity services will be delivered by June 30.

The DHB declined an interview but its board is scheduled to discuss the next steps at its meeting next week. For now, the DHB said everything is operating as normal in the quake-prone Heretaunga building.