Lack of staff sparks concerns over Highway births

Chinchilla Medical Practice Dr Ken Gilmour.
Chinchilla Medical Practice Dr Ken Gilmour. Brooke Duncan

EXPECTING Chinchilla mums may give birth in an ambulance as with Chinchilla Hospital remains unable to provide birthing services.

Chinchilla doctor Ken Gilmour said the hospital had been on 'bypass' since December due to what he believed was a staff shortage.

"There's no end in sight to this bypass and it seems there is token at best effort to fill those places," he said.

Dr Gilmour said the extra travel was concerning, especially for women in areas further afield like Miles, Tara, and Taroom.

"You don't want to be having a baby at Brigalow or Warra or somewhere like that or in the back of the ambulance halfway between here and Dalby," he said.

For expecting mother Amanda Maurice, the ongoing situation was a worry.

"I've developed a rapport particularly with the midwives and would really love to have my baby with their support, but my greatest concern is that I'll end up having a baby on the way to Dalby," she said.

"The other difficulty, because I've got a toddler, is it's going to be really hard for my partner to visit me in hospital because he'll be needing to look after the toddler in Chinchilla."

Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service Director of Nursing Rural, Western, Tracey Morgan said the DDHHS was "examining options around the recruitment of suitably qualified staff" to provide the services.

"There can be challenges in maintaining the sustainability of an appropriately qualified workforce in rural and remote areas."

She said the hospital would continue to provide antenatal and postnatal care and assessment of women with pregnancy concerns.

When asked if women would have to make their own way to Dalby, a DDHHS spokeswoman said women who present to the Chinchilla Hospital emergency department "are assessed and if required will be provided with inter-hospital transport via ambulance".

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