Pregnant Parkes women forced to travel to Forbes to give birth

CRISIS POINT: There is currently a shortage of doctors available to support maternity services at both Parkes and Forbes hospitals. File photos.
CRISIS POINT: There is currently a shortage of doctors available to support maternity services at both Parkes and Forbes hospitals. File photos.

Expectant Parkes mums will have to travel to Forbes to deliver their babies due to a shortage of medical practitioners to support maternity services at both hospitals.

A spokesperson for the Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) said available medical staff are working on a single roster with all births currently occurring at Forbes.

"Discussions with staff and other stakeholders have been held in recent weeks regarding maternity services in Parkes and Forbes with the focus on the safety of women and their babies," the spokesperson said.

The health service says this is an interim measure.

"It is the intention to continue to provide birthing services at both Parkes and Forbes," the spokesperson said.

"What is currently under discussion is what types of births should be routinely undertaken at these sites.

"A model of maternity services suggested in an independent review commissioned by the WNSWLHD proposes low risk births at both sites through a Midwifery Group Practice (MGP).

"An MGP partners expecting mothers with a midwife through to birth.

"Under this model, mothers who are assessed as potentially needing medical support during labour, would deliver at Forbes."

No decisions have been made yet - talks are ongoing with staff, industrial associations and both Parkes and Forbes councils.

"These discussions are being undertaken with an absolute focus on providing safe and high quality services for mothers, babies and their families," the spokesperson said.

Prior to birth, mothers are continuing to be seen in Parkes by midwives and doctors and GP obstetricians are providing weekly antenatal clinics in Parkes.

WNSWLHD Rural Health Director of medical services Shannon Nott said the health service has experienced significant challenges in securing local general practitioners with advanced skills in obstetrics and/or anaesthetics.

"The shortage has largely stemmed from retirements of senior local medical staff over the past two to three years," Mr Nott said.

"Lachlan Health Service continues to endeavour to recruit new general practioners with the required skills for both Parkes and Forbes.

"Within the last year, advertisements in emergency, obstetrics and anaesthetics positions have been advertised for Parkes alone.

"Whilst there has been an active commitment to recruit new doctors, it remains difficult to recruit medical staff with the appropriate skillset required for the Parkes community."

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