'Stop buck passing rural birthing services'

Doctors tell George St: Stop buck passing on birthing services


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RURAL BIRTHING: Health Minister Steven Miles has promised to draw a line under reductions in maternity services.

RURAL BIRTHING: Health Minister Steven Miles has promised to draw a line under reductions in maternity services.

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Rural doctors call for the 'election-proof' birthing services in rural areas.

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RURAL doctors have backed a promise by Health Minister Steven Miles to draw a line under reductions in maternity services, with any future changes to require special ministerial approval.

But Rural Doctors Association of Queensland president Clare Walker says more needs to be done, calling for an 'election-proof' guarantee for safe birthing services close to home for Queensland women.

"RDAQ welcomes the Rural Maternity Taskforce Report's recommendations but we ask Health Minister Steven Miles and Shadow Minister Ros Bates to step up and 'election-proof' the future of maternity services for rural and remote communities," Dr Walker said.

Rural Doctors Association of Queensland president Clare Walker.

Rural Doctors Association of Queensland president Clare Walker.

"We want bipartisan support for a guaranteed future for Queensland mothers and babies beyond the next election so that the buck-passing on maternity services stops."

But a bipartisan approach looks difficult to achieve.

LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said the Palaszczuk government's promises to reopen regional maternity services needed to be backed up by action.

"The bush baby crisis is far from over. Since 2001, Labor has closed 26 rural maternity units," Ms Frecklington said.

"We want to see Chinchilla hospital back up and running and a proper plan to return full maternity services to Theodore as well.

"We've heard heartbreaking stories and how the impact on maternity service closures in the bush were putting lives at risk.

We want bipartisan support so that the buck-passing on maternity services stops. - Clare Walker, Rural Doctors Association of Queensland

"We need to bridge the divide between the city and the bush and I will hold Labor to account to ensure regional health services are restored."

RDAQ had been pushing since 2005 for an effective 'collaborative care' model that halts maternity ward closures and allows for others to reopen.

"RDAQ believes maternity care should be delivered to women and their families, as close to home as is safe and possible, by a collaborative team with strong governance structures in place," Dr Walker said.

"All maternity services should seek to foster a culture of respect, professionalism and inter-disciplinary collaboration to provide a maternity service informed by the consumer and their community."

Dr Miles has promised to adopt the six recommendations of the Rural Maternity Taskforce Report:

Media Release 17 June, 2019

Rural doctors call for 'election-proof' birthing services

Queensland's rural doctors have welcomed an undertaking by Health Minister Steven Miles to draw a line under reductions in maternity services with any future changes to require special ministerial approval.

Rural Doctors Association of Queensland (RDAQ) President, Dr Clare Walker welcomes Minister Miles' response to the Rural Maternity Taskforce Report but has called for an 'election-proof' guarantee for safe birthing services close to home for Queensland women.

"RDAQ welcomes the Taskforce's recommendations but we ask Health Minister Steven Miles and Shadow Minister Ros Bates to step up and 'election-proof' the future of maternity services for rural and remote communities," Dr Walker said.

"We want bipartisan support for a guaranteed future for Queensland mothers and babies beyond the next election so that the buck-passing on maternity services stops."

RDAQ had been advocating for an effective 'collaborative care' model that halts maternity ward closures and allows for others to reopen since 2005.

"RDAQ believes maternity care should be delivered to women and their families, as close to home as is safe and possible, by a collaborative team with strong governance structures in place," Dr Walker said.

"All maternity services should seek to foster a culture of respect, professionalism and inter-disciplinary collaboration to provide a maternity service informed by the consumer and their community."

Dr Walker said a high-functioning, safe, culturally-appropriate maternity service in a rural or remote setting, needs certain attributes to be successful.

"These include a long-term vision for the provision and sustainability of services that encompasses quality and safety; access; workforce; models of care; and infrastructure," Dr Walker said.

"Secure funding at adequate levels across all areas to enable the provision of rural models of obstetric care that have the care and safety of rural women and their babies at their core.

"There are rural hospitals that have these attributes and have provided long term, high quality, successful and safe maternity care for their communities."

The Taskforce Report makes six recommendations:

- Queensland Health establish clear whole-of-system governance and strategy for rural and remote health services.

- Queensland Health undertake comprehensive system-wide planning of rural maternity service provision.

- Hospital and Health Services invest in and promote improved rural maternity service collaborative culture and teamwork as a core to ensure best outcomes for women and babies.

- Each HHS (localised for each maternity service) develop an easy-to-understand guide for women, which summarises their local maternity model options. Queensland Health to co-design a template with consumers and service providers.

- Queensland Health mandate HHSs to follow evidence-based framework for decision-makers in assessing and configuring rural maternity services.

- Queensland Health to identify and coordinate local and statewide actions to improve maternal health in rural and remote communities. Remote indigenous communities should be a priority.

The RDAQ was represented on the taskforce by Goondiwindi doctor Sue Masel. Focus groups were consulted in Chinchilla, Ingham, Mount Isa, Roma and Theodore.

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