Group to boost rural births
THE PALASZCZUK Government has established a new 16-member rural maternity action group to maintain the momentum of the bush baby taskforce.
Work is already underway to reinstate low-risk birthing in Weipa and investigations are being made into the possibility of developing a midwife-led birthing service for low-risk pregnancies in Cloncurry.
A draft plan for the Weipa service is expected by mid-November.
Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles said the action group, which includes health executives, consumer representatives and clinicians, was working towards establishing two more low-risk birthing centres in rural areas with the locations still to be determined.
"Ultimately, any birthing service needs to be feasible, sustainable and, most importantly, safe for local women before it is introduced," he said.
Mr Miles said the Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service was also attempting to recruit the four midwives needed to reopen the birthing unit in Chinchilla.
"We know it can be hard to keep and retain staff in the bush," he said. "That's why in response to the Rural Maternity Taskforce report, the government committed $500,000 to trial programs to allow midwives and doctors to rotate through bigger hospitals to keep their skills current."
The push towards re-establishing some birthing services in rural Queensland has come after a series of stories in the Sunday Mail.
The Minister said the new Rural Maternity Implementation Oversight Committee met for the first time earlier this month and was co-chaired by Brisbane-based obstetrician Rebecca Kimble and North West Hospital and Health Service chief executive Lisa Davies-Jones.
News of the new committee comes as Biloela Hospital was placed on "maternity bypass" on Thursday after the sudden resignation of two midwives.
Mr Miles said he expected birthing services in Biloela to return to normal this week when two temporary replacement midwives would start work in the central Queensland town.
"In the meantime, the hospital is staffed by clinicians around the clock in the event of an emergency birth or other medical issue," Mr Miles said. "The Palaszczuk Government is committed to maintaining and improving regional and rural maternity services."
The next planned births in Biloela are not scheduled until after October 7.