Reduced hours for Deni maternity to be temporary
Expectant mothers who go into labour over the next two to three weeks may not be able to have their children at Deniliquin Hospital.
Murrumbidgee Local Health District regional general manager Rosemary Garthwaite has confirmed the Deniliquin Hospital maternity ward is operating on reduced hours as a result of a temporary skills shortage.
It means midwives will not be available at the hospital between 4.30pm and 8am.
Ms Garthwaite said this is the result of some midwives taking ‘‘unexpected leave’’ with staffing being reviewed daily and expected to be rectified shortly.
‘‘We need one more midwife to be available to allow us to return to a 24/7 service,’’ Ms Garthwaite said.
‘‘Our short term strategy is to find one more midwife, which includes speaking with other services within the health district.
‘‘We want to reassure all women in the Deniliquin area we are continuing to provide a service; it will continue now and into the future.’’
Ms Garthwaite said all women who have booked in to give birth at Deniliquin Hospital have been contacted regarding the restricted service.
She said if any of them go into labour outside the operating hours before the additional midwife can be recruited, each case would be assessed individually.
She said each would receive the appropriate support but, if time permitted, they would be sent to another district hospital to give birth.
‘‘Any expectant mother that presents to the emergency department is assessed and appropriate strategies put in place, with patient safety a priority.
‘‘We will continue to provide a safe service and support as needed.
‘‘Any woman who goes in to labour can still present to Deniliquin Hospital, and it is up to us to get them to where they need to be.
‘‘If there is an emergency the birth can be handled locally, and if travel is required the method will be assessed at the time.
‘‘Similarly, if a woman’s labour continues after 4.30pm, we will remain to provide support.
‘‘The important thing to know is that we do not expect this to go on for a long time.’’
Ms Garthwaite said longterm strategies are also already in place to ensure this skills shortage is not a concern into the future.
She said it includes recruitment of more midwives, and upskilling existing nurses.
‘‘We already offer scholarships for midwifery training, and we’ve only recently identified a Deniliquin Hospital staff member to receive that scholarship.
‘‘We also offer other education and training opportunities, and we’re looking at a rotation of midwives through larger centres which also provides some succession opportunities.’’
MLHD is also improving its support of the midwifery staff, according to Ms Garthwaite, which includes the soon-to-be completed recruitment of a clinical midwifery consultant.
‘‘We expect someone to be employed to this position in the next few weeks.
‘‘We’ve never had this role at Deniliquin before. It is mainly a support and research role, and with some hands-on work.
‘‘The role is there to support the midwifery team and to improve the experience of women by making them the centre of all decisions about their care.
‘‘As a new position, this also aids in succession options that local midwives can aspire to if they want to go further. We’re very excited about that.’’