Recruitment issues plague rural health

Chinchilla maternity services still uncertain


News
Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service chief executive Dr Peter Gillies said a generational change with doctors meant recruiting new staff was challenging.

Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service chief executive Dr Peter Gillies said a generational change with doctors meant recruiting new staff was challenging.

Aa

The Chinchilla community is still no closer to seeing maternity service re-established in the town.

Aa

The Chinchilla community is still in a holding pattern, with no idea as to when maternity services will be re-established in the town.

Despite a commitment by the state government to resume maternity services at the Chinchilla Hospital, recruitment issues plague the process.

Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service chief executive Dr Peter Gillies said they have undertaken eight recruitment campaigns since June 2018.

"We have worked hard and relentlessly on recruitment campaigns to see birthing re-established in Chinchilla," he said.

"From the recent recruitment process, we were successful in recruiting one midwife to the Chinchilla Hospital. We need four to restart the service."

During an estimates hearing on health and ambulance services last month, Dr Gillies was questioned about the impact on Dalby Hospital services, with Chinchilla being offline for the latter half of 2018 and all of 2019.

"Dalby is capable of handling additional births," Dr Gillies told the hearing.

"I do not believe that has had an adverse impact on Dalby in any way."

But when questioned about staffing shortages at Dalby Hospital and the hospital almost going on maternity bypass the weekend of June 8 and 9, Dr Gillies offered a conflicting answer.

"It did not go on bypass; to be honest, it was close," he said.

"I am concerned about Dalby medical staffing."

Health Minister Steven Miles has reaffirmed the government's commitment to re-establishing birthing at Chinchilla.

"We've made it clear it is only a temporary closure and local mothers can be assured birthing services will re-open at the hospital as soon as possible," he said.

Mr Miles recently announced $500,000 to trial programs to allow bush midwives and doctors to rotate through bigger hospitals to keep their skills current in a bid to lure and keep more clinicians in bush hospitals.

"One of the challenges of offering services in towns where there is a very low number of births, is it's very hard to keep your skills current as a clinician," Mr Miles said.

"I am hopeful the opportunity to upskill will help attract and retain skilled staff."

Opposition leader Deb Frecklington said the Labor government was "failing regional Queensland families" with no end date in sight for Chinchilla Hospital being on maternity bypass.

"These services are vital for families wanting to move to or stay in the regions," Ms Frecklington said.

Dr Gillies said there had been a generational change with doctors who used to work really hard in rural towns, doing long hours and lots of on-call.

"Understandably, the new generation does not want to do that," Dr Gillies said.

"As we get that generational change, we have some challenges to make sure that we can keep recruiting.

"Dalby is a key hub hospital of ours and it is an absolute priority to keep birthing going.

"That is absolutely the commitment to maintain that service."

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by