Western LHD responds to readers' concerns as maternity service issues reemerge

Concerns for Parkes' maternity services, or lack of, have been raised again after Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) issued a reminder last week that women need to travel to Forbes to give birth while a midwife-led birthing service is being developed at Parkes Hospital.

A number of Parkes Champion Post readers turned to Facebook to vent their frustrations and concerns after reading the reminder.

Two days later Parkes Shire Council announced it will be hosting a town meeting with residents and health professionals tomorrow evening to discuss the delivery and models of health services at Parkes Hospital.

A number of residents are concerned they are not being told the truth.

In response to last week's story, a new Parkes mum asked if WNSWLHD could tell the Parkes community what exactly constituted a 'low risk' or 'medium risk' birth.

"What about first-time mums? Fourth-time mums? Mums with gestational diabetes? Or pre-eclampsia? Can they tell us what sort of mums can birth at the Parkes Hospital under these reduced standards?" She said on Facebook.

"I'm concerned they haven't informed the community of the truth."

Another Parkes woman said - "I want to know who's responsible if something happens to a baby while mother is being driven to Forbes?"

The Champion Post turned to WNSWLHD to help provide the community with some answers.

WNSWLHD said in a statement that women are regularly assessed during pregnancy to ensure the health of both mother and baby, and to determine whether the birth may require intervention such as induction or a caesarean section.

"In the Midwifery Group Practice (MGP) model being developed for the Lachlan Health Service, midwives and doctors will work with parents to determine whether a birth under the care of a midwife is likely to be a clinically safe option, and one which is preferred by the parents," the statement read.

"In those circumstances, parents will be able to choose to birth at either Parkes or Forbes."

The statement said when birth under the care of a midwife is not a viable or preferred option, the birth will occur at Forbes, where obstetric and anaesthetic services are available around the clock.

"As is the case for all maternity services, more complex births may be planned to occur at hospitals such as Orange, Dubbo or Nepean," WNSWLHD said.

"Procedures are in place at all hospitals to provide care for unexpected births, or where unexpected complications occur.

"NSW Ambulance is part of the team working to develop the policies and procedures required for the Lachlan MGP.

"Substantial detail and data on why these changes are occurring has been provided during consultations with consumers and the broader community."

WNSWLHD said it is working with staff, consumers and other community stakeholders to create a sustainable service across both Parkes and Forbes hospitals.

It confirmed it was continuing efforts to recruit doctors to Parkes Hospital to provide a sustainable roster of obstetric and anaesthetic services.

"We will continue to update the community on developments through the media and community stakeholder groups," the statement said.

"Last financial year, across the District, our hospitals received more than 179,000 presentations to emergency departments, performed almost 11,000 planned surgeries, admitted more than 85,000 patients and provided hundreds of thousands of services to patients outside of hospitals."

WNSWLHD's 2019-20 budget for the District is $979 million, which is an increase of $35 million on the previous year's budget.

It said the extra $35 million will be used to help meet the increasing demand for services in the almost 40 hospitals it covers and communities of around 280,000 people it serves in the District, but failed to specify exactly what the money will be spent on.

Parkes residents will have the opportunity to ask more questions about Parkes' maternity services at tomorrow night's town at the Parkes Services Club at 6.30pm.

Prior to the public meeting, community members are encouraged to share their stories, concerns, ideas and questions via council's Social Pinpoint platform, https://parkescouncil.mysocialpinpoint.com/, which many have done so already.

What do you think?