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Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker has launched a petition against the proposed downgrade of the Lumsden Maternity Centre and will lead a protest march in the Northern Southland town next weekend.

The Lumsden Maternity Centre is being downgraded from a Primary Birthing Unit (birthing and postnatal care facilities) to a Maternal and Child Hub (non-birthing unit for antenatal care).

“This is like ripping the heart out of the Northern Southland community. It means there will no longer be birthing or postnatal inpatient care for mothers and babies in Lumsden, leaving a gaping hole in the middle ground between home birth and hours of travel to another hospital,” Mr Walker says.

“More than the practicalities of travel, it’s about the quality of postnatal care and the integral role the maternity centre plays in confidence of new parents and postnatal mental health.

“This is ultimately about the well-being of Clutha-Southland mums-to-be. They deserve much better and I hope Health Minister Dr David Clark listens to their concerns as a result of my petition.”

As well as launching an online petition, Mr Walker is hosting a protest march in Lumsden next Saturday, March 17 at 11am.

“Walking away from a fundamental community service is unacceptable – especially when Labour campaigned on investing $8 billion in new money into the health sector,” Mr Walker says.

“Problems started when the Dunedin Hospital Rebuild Advisory Group was formed with no representation outside of Dunedin, meaning it will be determined by Dunedin and political interests rather than what is best in the long-term for all people of the Southern region.

“Dr Clark simply must commit to the retention of the Lumsden Maternity Centre as a Primary Birthing Unit.

“I am proud to represent the people of Clutha-Southland in Parliament and I will do everything I possibly can to fight for the retention of core services and better healthcare.”

The petition is available here: https://hamishwalker.national.org.nz/savelumsdenmaternitycentre

The protest march will start at 11am, March 17, from the Lumsden Memorial Hall.

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