Budget boost for midwives but Te Anau has none left and nearest maternity centre under threat

The Budget has brought some welcome news for midwives who get some more money and a new system that gives them a direct say in how their system operates. 

The health dollar been stretched too far with Te Anau now without a midwife so can a Budget boost help the situation? Source: Seven Sharp

After lengthy negotiations, midwives across the country will get a pay increase of about $220 per expectant mother they treat and the Government is also putting $1 million towards unplanned travel expenses for midwives. 

But TVNZ 1's Seven Sharp reported this may not be enough for services in rural areas already at crisis point.

The Southland community of Te Anau has no midwives left and the only maternity centre within an hour's drive, at Lumsden, is under the threat of closure.

Jo Lundman was the last practicing midwife in Te Anau, but with low pay she conceded defeat last month and now pumps petrol.

"I tried to swim, I swum as hard as I could to make it sustainable and I couldn't. It's hard,  it's really hard," Ms Lundman said, her voice breaking.

She said the pay rise doesn't cover the diesel for the travel she has to do as a midwife.

The Lumsden maternity centre is run by a charitable trust with most funding coming through community goodwill, but is also under threat.

Board member John Douglas promises they'll keep the centre open as long as they can, but with a 40 per cent funding shortfall the clock is ticking.

The centre hasn't had a funding rise since 2012 and is currently in talks with the Southern District Health Board which has  renewed the centre's contract until September 2018 and offered a 1 per cent increase.

In the meantime, a group of mothers will be out marching in Lumsden on Saturday in support of the centre.