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The Health Minister knew about the clinical risk mothers in Te Anau would face when questioned in the house in August last year documents have revealed, Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker says.

“On July 4, 2018 the Associate Health Minister signed a briefing she had received which stated there were two areas of concern which stood out through the review period which included “the clinical risk faced by a small number of women in Te Anau who would be required to travel further to access a primary birthing facility,” Mr Walker says.

“On August 16, 2018 I questioned the Health Minister about whether he could guarantee that mothers and babies in northern Southland won't die or suffer permanent injury because they are too far away from a specialist maternity unit in their greatest time of need.”

“He said “Due to the intense community interest and the impact of travel distances, I'm advised the Southern DHB sought external advice from midwifery consultants to help them understand this risk. The external advisers provided their opinion that there is no additional clinical risk in moving Lumsden to a maternal and child hub…”

“The Minister knew there was additional clinical risk, as the Ministry of Health had provided him and the Associate Health Minister with a report which highlighted the clinical risk mothers would face if Lumsden was downgraded.”

“This Government has never cared about rural Southland mothers and babies, and when pressed on the issue, has pleaded ignorant to cover their own back.”

“So much for the most open and transparent Government yet.”

“They are intent on using rural Southland as a social experiment instead of prioritising their health and safety.”

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