Petitioners are pushing back
AS FURTHER funding for Sunshine Coast hospitals was announced last month, a group of residents remained concerned about the lack of birthing services at Nambour Hospital.
With the backing of Member for Nicklin Marty Hunt, Maternity Consumer Network director Alecia Staines petitioned officials to reconsider their options.
Her petition, which had received more than 500 signatures of support, requested funding from State Government to reinstate basic birthing services in the already existing facilities.
Her reasons included accessibility and travel time, a growing population, loss of a skillset in the region and a "ripple affect on the broader community".
Minister for Health Steven Miles said at the budget announcement that the decision regarding what services were best offered at which hospital was made by the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service.
"It will continue to be the case that across the region people might have to travel to the Sunshine Coast University Hospital if it's the best placed to deliver a service, just as people might have to travel to Nambour for in-patient mental health services," Mr Miles said.
Sunshine Coast HHS clinical director of women's and families services, Dr Marc Miller, said the decision to collocate birthing services at SCUH was made following extensive consultation with consumers and the health service's expert team of clinicians.
"SCUH is 30 minutes from Nambour to SCUH," Mr Miller said.
"That is closer than many women in Brisbane have to travel to give birth. Since the opening of SCUH a year ago, there has not been any increase in babies being born before arrival at hospital than what was experienced when birthing occurred at Nambour General Hospital."
Ms Staines said she found the health minister's response dismissive of the importance of having localised birthing options.
"We haven't specifically said that we want replication of SCUH, that would be silly, but we want to have services appropriate to a local hospital as well," she said.
However, Mr Miller expressed his concern of solely providing basic services.
"Of the approximately 430 women in Nambour giving birth each year, up to 50 per cent of these women required emergency surgery or experienced a complication around the birth," he said.
Ms Staines is a mother of four, and vowed that the fight for reinstating services wouldn't stop here. She is currently in the throes of meetings at Government House in Brisbane.
Backing MP Mr Hunt promised he would keep a close eye on the process, and would offer support.