The Southern DHB says that an ambulance is "entirely an appropriate place" to deliver a baby after a Southland mother gave birth in an ambulance on a roadside near Lumsden on Saturday.
It comes just months after the town's maternity centre was downgraded to a "hub" by the Southern DHB. Some of the birthing units were turned into maternal hubs, which provide pre and post-natal care but are not considered places to give birth except in an emergency.
Southern DHB chief executive Chris Fleming today told 1 NEWS, "I believe that an ambulance is entirely an appropriate place in the event there had been a clinical decision making, like in this instance where they wanted to move the women closer to a secondary facility."
"All of the necessary safety equipment was in place – and drugs – with the exception of a oxygen supply. However, I’m aware that the ambulance was carrying oxygen within their own supplies."
Mr Fleming said other instances of women giving birth in ambulances do "occur around New Zealand".
"All the necessary equipment and the resources were in place to be able to support the safe delivery of the baby."
Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker, who has been campaigning alongside mothers and midwives against the downgrade, says, "It’s a huge relief a baby born on the side of the road just outside of Lumsden is healthy with both baby and mother doing well, but this wouldn’t have happened if the Government hadn’t cut maternity services in the town."
He says the National Party has repeatedly said downgrading services in Lumsden would result in a child being born on the side of the road while travelling to Invercargill.
Health Minister David Clark said last year he asked the Ministry to review the Southern District Health Board’s plans.
"I received an assurance those plans were sound," he said.