Chinchilla maternity battle

Chinchilla needs 'capability to manage emergencies in labour'


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RDAQ delegates Dr Michael Rice and executive officer Marg Moss visited Chinchilla Hospital for a fact-finding meeting with DDHHS and local staff.

RDAQ delegates Dr Michael Rice and executive officer Marg Moss visited Chinchilla Hospital for a fact-finding meeting with DDHHS and local staff.

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The Rural Doctors Association of Queensland has rejected a long-term proposal to reduce birthing services for Chinchilla mothers.

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The Rural Doctors Association of Queensland has rejected a long-term proposal to reduce birthing services for Chinchilla mothers.

Under the proposed plan, women in labour would be automatically transported from Chinchilla to Dalby when experiencing complications.

RDAQ president Dr Neil Beaton said retaining and restoring birthing services in rural and remote areas remained the safest way to protect Queensland mothers and infants.

Dr Beaton said it was essential that Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service consider surgical capacity and medical specialist outreach.

“Experience has shown that having fully-staffed local operating capability to manage emergencies in labour is a key minimal requirement to reduce the risk of harm or death,” he said.

"It is vital that generalist staff in all rural hospitals have the skills to care for a woman presenting as an emergency in labour, deliver a baby safely and deal with complications effectively."

The maternity services at Chinchilla were reopened in November after months of being on bypass, but closed again due to Christmas and New Year holidays and then because of a lack of staff.

Last month Health Minister Steven Miles restated the government's commitment to restoring birthing services across rural and remote Queensland, with the Queensland Rural Maternity Taskforce asked to “identify ways to provide more and better birthing services throughout the state."

“I can guarantee that the purpose of this (taskforce) process is to ensure that current services remain open and further services can open into the future,” he said.

Mr Miles said the taskforce was discussing provision of birthing services at the hotspots of Chinchilla and Theodore, but Dr Beaton said reasonable access to a well-equipped operating theatre and clinical support services needed to be made possible in a timely way.

"We cannot accept the proposal to commence birthing at Chinchilla without anaesthetics and surgical services,” he said.

Dr Beaton said collaborative maternity care with doctors, nurses and midwives working together was the best approach to providing a safe solution for patients.

Following a fact-finding meeting with Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service and local management at Chinchilla Hospital, RDAQ has written to Mr Miles with recommendations to foster stability and safety for rural communities.

“Chinchilla needs a clear and transparent clinical services plan, including adequate embargoed budgets for sustainable rosters,” Dr Beaton said.

“Maintaining theatre activity and skills at Chinchilla Hospital is essential for recruiting and retaining staff who want to use and expand their skills."

DDHHS chief executive Dr Peter Gillies said a consultation phase for developing the collaborative model of care for birthing at the Chinchilla Hospital included discussions with midwifery and medical stakeholders.

"We received feedback from mums in the community, who have told us they want to have a group practice of known midwives, with collaborative support from a multi-disciplinary team including medical staff," Dr Gillies said.

"The team will support the mother throughout pregnancy, birth, and just after having their baby.

"We are in the planning stages of what this model of care will be. Safety remains our number one priority for birthing services."

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