Petition for replacement birthing unit in Chch

  • 06/04/2016

Women in Christchurch's east are demanding a commitment from the Government to providing a replacement for their condemned birthing unit.

Canterbury District Health Board (DHB) confirmed the facility at Burwood Hospital, which has been closed since the Valentine's Day shake, will reopen briefly until June before being demolished, with no assurance it will be rebuilt.

Chief executive David Meates said the DHB had intended to keep the unit open until it built a new primary maternity unit in the Christchurch area.

However, the February 14 quake forced their hand and it's no longer an option. The DHB says staff and women have also felt unsafe ever since the February 2011 earthquake.

"A band aid solution is just not viable when you consider the Primary Birthing Strategy and what's needed long term for our community," Mr Meates says.

The 1940s building contained a significant amount of asbestos, which created real issues, he says.

Local MP Poto Williams says more than 4000 people are backing a campaign to keep a birthing unit in the city's east.

"I think it's a very clear signal the facility is much-loved in the eastern suburb," she says. "I'm hoping that DHB officials and board members are taking note of the community's response to this."

Ms Williams says she has yet to see a business plan in relation to a replacement unit and there's concern the Canterbury DHB won't live up to its commitment of rebuilding in the east.

"Until such a time as that happens, we're unsure about the DHB's commitment to primary birthing in the eastern suburbs."

Ms Williams says the closest alternatives allowing long stays for new mums are out of town in Rangiora and Lincoln.

The birthing unit will reopen until June 30, and will afterwards be flagged for demolition. 

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