Independent review announced into roadside births in Southland

The Southern District Health Board has announced an independent review into the circumstances around three recent emergency births.

There's been growing concern over maternity services in the region after the downgrading of Lumsden Maternity Centre.

In the latest incident, a baby was born in the carpark of the new maternity hub - the third emergency birth since the town's birthing centre was downgraded in April.

Southland woman Amanda McIvor gave birth to her son Levi in the back of an ambulance just outside Lumsden in May, and in June a woman was forced to give birth in Lumsden's emergency birthing facility and then immediately travel for an hour to the nearest primary birthing facility.

The Southern DHB has announced that an independent review will be carried out into the circumstances around the births.

Amanda McIvor, partner Gordon Cowie and son Levi, who was born on the side of the road.
Amanda McIvor, partner Gordon Cowie and son Levi, who was born on the side of the road. Photo credit: Supplied

It will be led by expert reviewer and experienced Northland rural midwife, Sue Bree. 

The review will run alongside a more general review of the maternity services in Southland.

The DHB said it would examine what has been delivered and whether expectations, as set out in the strategy, have been met.

Midwifery and nursing expert Helen Pocknal will lead it. 

It will also consider lessons learnt to date to inform next steps for Southern DHB. 

The review would not look at the strategy itself, which had been reviewed and is supported by the Ministry of Health.

Southern DHB CEO Chris Fleming said both reviews would help guide the DHB's next steps with its implementation.

"We are some 10 months into a two-year implementation timeframe, and we need to take stock of what has gone well, and where implementation has been more challenging, and what lessons we need to learn from this," he said.

"I look forward to receiving the reports in due course and am committed to responding to the recommendations in a timely way."