With reports that maternity ward closures in rural and regional areas are putting babies’ lives at risk, Queensland Health will convene a special summit of experts to assess the provision of maternity services in rural and remote parts of the state.
Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services Steven Miles said he wanted to reassure Queenslanders that birthing in the state is safe and getting safer.
“Queensland is one of the safest places in Australia, and Australia is one of the safest places in the world to give birth,” Mr Miles said.
“But the death of even one mother or baby in childbirth is a tragedy and we continue to look at ways to improve.
“I’ve asked the Department of Health to establish a summit, including re-convening an expert panel formed in 2014 to look at these issues.”
Queensland Health Deputy Director General Dr John Wakefield said the Health Department always put safety first.
“We think every woman deserves every chance to have her baby safely – and our focus on safe birthing works.
“We understand everyone would like every facility or service right there in their own community but safe, specialist birthing services need special facilities and enough births to support accredited teams of clinicians.
“This decision is never made lightly and involves careful and honest consideration of the risks and consequences by health services and their communities. Each situation is unique.
“More than 60,000 babies are born in Queensland each year and expectant mums can have every confidence in the safety and quality of our public and private maternity care.”
Mr Miles said the panel would consider safety, staffing and models of care as part of its considerations.
The Mater Hospital in Gladstone (a private hospital) recently announced that it would cease to offer maternity services because of an inadequate number of births to make the service viable.