Doctors push to re-open maternity wards on the Western Downs
AS EXPECTANT mothers continue to be forced to drive hundreds of kilometres to give birth, the Rural Doctors Association has pushed for Callide candidates to pledge to re-open birthing facilities in the Western Downs if succesful at the Queensland election.
It has been over two years since the state government closed down maternity services in Chinchilla, leaving women to travel 90km to the nearest facility in Dalby.
Rural Doctors Association of Queensland president Dr Raymond Lewandowski said he is calling on both the government and opposition to put party politics aside and work proactively towards a workable solution.
“(We are) calling on both sides of politics to put forward detailed plans for restoration of birthing in priority sites including Chinchilla and Theodore,” he said.
“Both major political parties must commit to expanded medical services to restore birthing in rural sites that have suffered from closures and extended periods of bypass, as delivering only part of the team is a recipe for failure.”
Dr Lewandowski said collaborative teams were the key to establishing and maintaining a local birthing service that provide for widest number of women.
“As rural doctors we are anxious to see plans that (only) restore birthing because provision of antenatal care or models that can only provide birthing for very few women is not what the community has come to expect nor is it what they deserve - this approach would undermine other local services and health care.
“Quality maternity care requires a team including midwives both in the hospital and community, doctors with obstetric and anaesthetic skills, general practitioners both private and public, obstetricians, allied health, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers, lactation consultants and child health nurses,” he said.
Dr Lewandowski said success depended on a long-term vision for the provision and sustainability of services that encompass quality and safety; access; workforce; models of care; and infrastructure.
“Queenslanders should have access to a world-class public health system regardless of their postcode,” he said.
“It is unreasonable that women have to travel to another town to birth their babies when there is a hospital that has been and should be equipped and staffed to provide this service.”
If elected, the Liberal National Party have pledged to reopen rural maternity services in Chinchilla and Theodore Hospitals.
In October, LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said being born in a regional hospital, she understands how crucial maternity services are to families.
“Providing better regional health services closer to home is not only good for local families but encourages more people to live in rural and regional Queensland,” she said.
“The LNP’s plan will offer local birthing services to low-risk pregnancies that can be safely undertaken at the Chinchilla and Theodore Hospitals.
“Mums in the bush deserve the same healthcare as mums in Brisbane.”
MP for Callide Colin Boyce said he 100 per cent supports the restoration of maternity services at Chinchilla and Theodore, as he is regularly contacted by constituents struggling to find appropriate services for their needs.
“Our families need birthing facilities, and general health practices to support their choices to live and work in a great regional area,” he said.