Last says ‘nothing concrete’ in Bowen birthing review
MEMBER for Burdekin Dale Last has welcomed the announcement Bowen is the location of a State Government review in to maternity services, however has said the trial was 'exactly that' and offered no certainty.
Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles, who has pledged the Palaszczuk Government's commitment to maintaining and improving regional and rural maternity services, announced Bowen would be the latest pilot location for a new maternity planning tool to meet the needs of local women.
The planning tool, developed by the Rural Maternity Taskforce, is a decision-making tool designed to help health executives and clinicians determine what maternity services are needed for the communities they serve.
Mr Last said the current government had been 'making noises on maternity services' for some time but there was nothing concrete in the announcement for expectant parents in Bowen.
"The announcement is that a planning tool will be rolled out and that tool will help examine what maternity services are needed," Mr Last said.
"There is nothing in the announcement that guarantees children will be delivered in Bowen any time soon.
"For the Health Minister to say there are two steps in the process is basically saying we are committing to thinking about whether you need the service.
"It shouldn't take long to review the current services because there are none."
Mr Last praised locals who have fought for the return of maternity services, saying the announcement was a result of "constant pressure" at all levels and was a great illustration of community co-operation.
"I understand that there needs to be work done on the actual facilities and there will also be work to be done on recruiting and training staff," he said.
"I really hope that this is a relatively quick process and that the services are up and running in the short term but, the Minister needs to understand that, if this drags on and no progress is made, the people of Bowen will know where to direct their blame."
Mr Miles said ultimately the return of birthing services in Bowen would rely on the feasibility of the planning tool.
"Ultimately, any birthing service needs to be feasible, sustainable and, most importantly, safe for local women before it is introduced. That's the purpose of this planning tool," he said.
"Safety must be the first priority, so a thorough assessment of what's possible is essential before an HHS can commit to upgrading a maternity service."