Taupo Maternity Postnatal Stay restrictions unacceptable

Lakes DHB’s decision to restrict the opening hours of the Maternity Unit at Taupō Hospital at night and during weekends for postnatal stays due to a lack of staff put mothers and their babies at risk, says Taupō MP Louise Upston.

“I’ve been in regular contact with CEO Nick Saville-Wood at Lakes DHB, and he assured me in December last year that the DHB has addressed staff shortage issues affecting birthing and postnatal care at the Taupō Hospital.

“To hear that women may now need to be discharged after giving birth during a weekend or at night, or go to Rotorua Hospital if they want any postnatal care, is simply unacceptable.

“Babies don't arrive on set days.  Women are entitled to up to 48 hours of in-patient postnatal care in a maternity facility of their choice and the DHB has an obligation to ensure uninterrupted service provision to Taupō women.

“My proposed 3-Day Postnatal Stay Members Bill will increase this entitlement to 72 hours because National recognises how important this time is to mothers and their babies.

“However, when I sought Labour’s support of my Bill, the Associate Minister of Health, Hon Dr Ayesha Verrall, said “she believes the current legislation already meets the needs of women who require longer in-patient postnatal care and suggested the Government remained committed to improving maternity care for women, babies and whānau through the public health system”.

“Well, the reduced operating hours of the Maternity unit at the Taupō Hospital due to staff shortages do not match the Government’s commitment rhetoric then,” says Ms Upston.

Figures obtained under the Official Information Act suggests DHBs are facing critical health workforce shortages, including midwives. Lakes DHB had 58 staff vacancies as of 30 March 2021 across all sites operated by the DHB. These include 5 midwives and 28 nurses amongst others.

Ms Upston says the Government has talked up its health restructure package of $486 million, but have failed to produce any concrete plan or policy to increase the supply of critical health workers including midwives.

“As a result, our DHB is having to push back and shut vital facilities like our Maternity unit at Taupō hospital due to its inability to provide postnatal care as it doesn’t have enough staff.”

Ms Upston says mothers and their babies should not be collateral damage for the Government’s inaction on addressing the critical issue of healthcare worker shortages.

“Taupō needs a 24 hour, 7 days a week service for birthing and postnatal care. Women and babies will pay the price of the restricted opening hours of the maternity unit and that is unacceptable,” says Ms Upston.

Anyone with concerns about their postnatal stay entitlements when giving birth at the Taupō Hospital is encouraged to get in touch at [email protected]

Figures obtained under OIA – Lakes DHB Staff vacancies as of 30 March 2021

Media contact: Louise Upston 0274767887