Shadow ministers blast lack of Western Downs birthing units
Queensland shadow ministers have called on the State Government to fulfil their promise of an upgraded birthing unit in Chinchilla, after discovering part of the ward is being used as an office.
Member for Mudgeeraba Ros Bates, Member for Southport Rob Molhoek and Member for Warrego Ann Leahy spoke of what they believed were failings by the Palaszczuk government on February 18.
Ms Bates, who is the shadow minister for health and ambulance services, paid a visit to the Chinchilla maternity unit on February 17 promised by the State Government to be open for births.
“There was one labour ward, and the other one had been turned into an office,” Ms Bates said.
“Under the Labour Government, 34 rural birthing units have closed since 2001.
“We want to make sure Queenslanders, no matter where they live, get world class health service, and we’re there to make sure the government keeps to its promise about reopening Chinchilla.”
Ms Leahy said she had personally fielded concerns about the facilities in the Western Downs, with cases of women giving birth on the side of the road.
“We have situations where mums are driving in labour from Chinchilla to Dalby to have their babies,” she said.
“And this is putting pressure on Dalby Hospital.”
The State Government drew criticism from the public after it was revealed in 2019 that Dalby Hospital’s maternity services were inches away from being placed on bypass.
Ms Bates told the Dalby Herald in 2019 that if Dalby’s services were to be closed off to expectant mothers, it would cause major distress to the community.
“If Dalby goes offline, all of those families in that region will have to travel into Toowoomba, which is completely unacceptable and heightens the risk of roadside births,” she said.
Ms Leahy said Dalby Hospital currently had 20 midwives on staff aiding in 254 births occurring last year, with almost one caesarean section occurring per week.
“What concerned me is that Dalby nearly went on bypass recently,” she said.
“Is the government actually planning on returning the maternity services to Chinchilla if they’re making offices out of birthing suites?”