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Push to reopen birthing services in the bush

Rural Doctors Association President Dr John Hall. photo contributed

The closure of birthing services in rural and remote communities is a health crisis being fuelled by the reluctance of state governments to invest in regional Australia, according to the president of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia, Dr John Hall.

Dr Hall made a powerful presentation on behalf of remote communities at the annual Federal politicians’ lunch in Canberra last week and said it was ‘mischievous’ for state governments to use the issue of safety as a reason to close birthing services.

More than 255 maternity units have closed in bush communities in the past 20 years.

While presenting convincing evidence of the need to reinstate birthing services in the bush, Dr Hall highlighted the success of several Queensland communities where those services had already been re-established.

He said the statistics showed the dangers faced by women and babies in remote communities where there was no access to local obstetric, maternity, and neo-natal care. He said there was no compelling reason for state health authorities not to do more to have those services re-instated.

“We had great attendance, including Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Minister for Regional Heath Mark Coulton at the annual address,” Dr Hall said.

“The focus on was on rural maternity services and we co-presented with Dr Vincent Roche President of the Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, so we had great support from our specialist colleagues.

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