Parkes Hospital's maternity unit shutdown: Increasing births in Dubbo, Orange

NEWBORNS: Dubbo and Orange hospitals have had an increase in the number of babies being born so far this year. Photo: FILE
NEWBORNS: Dubbo and Orange hospitals have had an increase in the number of babies being born so far this year. Photo: FILE

THE number of babies being born at Dubbo and Orange hospitals have jumped by 8.6 per cent, new data shows.

So far this year 1870 babies have been born in Central and Western NSW, with these two hospitals experiencing the highest percentage increase in birth numbers.

Dubbo's maternity unit was by far the busiest the region with 660 babies born from January to June this year, which was a 6.8 per cent jump on the 618 during the same period last year.

In Orange, there was an 10.9 per cent spike in births - from 474 to 526.

Late last month Western NSW Local Health District chief executive Scott McLachlan predicted an increase in births at the two hospitals due to a two-month shutdown in birthing services at Parkes.

"I don't expect a big increase in the number of women coming to Dubbo and Orange," he told the Daily Liberal.

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"I know that our services in both Dubbo and Orange are capable of supporting those towns in the interim."

Only two other hospitals in the region experienced an increase in the number of births when comparing the six-month periods.

In Cowra, the number of births increased by 6.7 per cent, from 60 to 64; while in Bathurst there was a slight increase of 1.6 per cent from 252 to 256.

All other hospitals saw a reduction in the number of babies being born, with the closure of Parkes' maternity unit leading to a 46.9 per cent drop in births, from 66 to 35.

Births at Young Hospital declined from 86 to 71 (17.4 per cent); at Mudgee newborn numbers declined from 123 to 109 (11.4 per cent); and in Cootamundra numbers fell from 26 to 24 (7.7 per cent).

In Forbes, the closest hospital with a maternity unit to Parkes, has seen a slight decline in births from 73 to 72.

However, the number of newborns welcomed in Lithgow Hospital remains stable at 90.

The maternity unit at Parkes Hospital was closed due to a shortage of obstetricians with expectant mothers forced to travel to Forbes to give birth.

The decision to close Parkes' maternity unit gained an angry reaction from the community and hospital staff with a rally held on June 21 to save the hospital's maternity unit.

The Parkes Champion Post reported on June 20 that the Western NSW Local Health District would take two months to decide the fate of Parkes maternity unit.

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