Parkes Mayor exasperated over temporary maternity unit closure

FULL SUPPORT: Parkes Mayor Ken Keith OAM says the fact that our maternity unit has had to temporarily close
FULL SUPPORT: Parkes Mayor Ken Keith OAM says the fact that our maternity unit has had to temporarily close "defies belief".

Parkes Shire Mayor, Councillor Ken Keith OAM has expressed alarm and frustration over the decision to temporarily close Parkes Maternity Unit.

In a statement made on Wednesday, Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) said the closure is an interim measure while discussions continue.

A shortage of medical practitioners has been cited as the contributing factor.

Mayor Keith says it is exasperating that the situation has reached crisis point.

"This dilemma has long been foreseen as our long-serving proceduralist neared retirement and should have been proactively planned and managed by Western NSW Local Health District," Cr Keith said.

Cr Keith said that the community has done its part in attracting doctors through programs such as the GP Working Group and fundraising initiatives like the GP Cup which has invested over $100,000 in attracting doctors (including proceduralists) to Parkes.

"Closing delivery suites, and ultimately reducing vital health services for the Parkes Shire community, should not be an option," Cr Keith said.

"This decision will reduce health outcomes for women. The choice of women living in regional areas to birth locally should not be compromised.

"Our region is currently experiencing unprecedented growth and this decision by Western NSW Health District seems to be contradictory to that growth and defies belief.

"We certainly feel confident in the ability of the amazing team of Parkes midwives. However, they should be supported by a suitably qualified doctor.

"The community needs to know what is going to happen after this interim measure.

"We will be seeking a meeting with Minister for Health, Brad Hazzard MP to confirm his previous commitment to maintain service levels at both Parkes and Forbes hospitals.

"The community can be reassured that Council will stand strong on this issue and that Council will not rest until the future of maternity services in Parkes is guaranteed."