More staff are needed to deliver babies in Gladstone.
More staff are needed to deliver babies in Gladstone. April Fonti

More doctors needed to support obstetrics in Gladstone

MATERNITY services at Gladstone Hospital are limited by staff numbers and Queensland Health needs more senior doctors to support the director of obstetrics and gynaecology, according to a long-time GP.

Dr Barbara Panitz has been a general practitioner obstetrician in Gladstone for 15 years. Working full-time at Gladstone GP Super Clinic, Dr Panitz also delivers babies at Gladstone Hospital and Mater Hospital.

Over the years, Dr Panitz has seen talented doctors come and go from the position.

"They get so stressed out that they leave," she said. "There's too much work and stress for one person and not enough support."

She has seen similar problems in pediatrics.

"It's hard to recruit doctors for various reasons and the hospital is also restricted by budget.

"Gladstone Hospital's classification as a generalist model is also a problem," Dr Panitz said.

Under that model, much of Gladstone Hospital is controlled from Rockhampton.

Dr Panitz would like to see Gladstone's generalist classification reviewed.

"We deliver almost 600 babies a year at the Gladstone District Hospital and over 300 babies at the Mater," she said.

"That is a lot for one obstetrician."

Despite staffing shortages, Dr Panitz said Gladstone District Hospital was a safe place to give birth.

"Some of the niceties may go first, things like communication and having your midwife there all the time.

"But the safety is still there," she said.

At the opening of a Rural Birth Summit at Rockhampton, Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said he wanted to improve maternity health services in Central Queensland but would not commit to any new facilities.

Instead, he promised improved services within existing maternity units.