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Gladstone birthing services

20 September 2022

Overview

At Gladstone Hospital, maternity care has always been provided by a multi-disciplinary team of highly qualified midwives, doctors, nurses and allied health professionals.

Currently however, staff shortages mean we’re unable to provide a full range of obstetric and gynaecological care.

Until qualified medical professionals can be recruited, birthing services at Gladstone Hospital will be on bypass.

Gladstone Hospital birthing services will only be reinstated when we can ensure the safe provision of care for mothers and babies. Our ultimate goal is to deliver safe and sustainable maternity care for mothers and babies as close to home as possible.

What is bypass?

When a birthing service is on bypass, it means you and your baby may be transferred to another hospital, to allow us to provide you with safe and appropriate care.

Birthing services go on bypass if they need help to manage instances of unusually high demand, or are unable to sustain service delivery because of workforce shortages – as is currently the case for Gladstone Hospital.

With Gladstone Hospital maternity services on bypass, the closest and best alternate birthing option is usually Rockhampton Hospital.

Why is this happening?

Health services across the world are experiencing challenges recruiting healthcare workers, especially doctors, nurses, midwives and obstetric specialists.

In Queensland, and more broadly across Australia, having adequate obstetric specialty available is an ongoing challenge. As a result, both Federal and State Governments have identified this as a key focus for workforce planning

It is often difficult, especially in regional health services to fill clinical vacancies.

Recruiting suitably qualified health workers to the Gladstone Hospital’s maternity service has been particularly challenging – but we are doing everything in our power and exploring every opportunity.

Our current priority is hiring obstetric specialists to continue delivering the best possible care to you and your baby.

More broadly, we are progressing a variety of strategies to improve the recruitment and retention of our health workforce in Central Queensland. This work is under way and includes expanding our capacity and skill set across the Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service, working with our existing hardworking workforce, looking to expand our workforce base and engaging with private sector locums to address shortfalls if these occur in the future.

What does this mean for me?

Our staff will remain in regular contact with expectant mothers in Gladstone.

We will identify if Rockhampton Hospital, or another hospital, is best suited to provide the care you need.

When your baby is due, you may be asked to come to Gladstone Hospital first so you can be assessed before a decision is made to transfer your care to another hospital. These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.

When it is safe to do so, and if you are not considered high-risk, you will be transferred to the alternate hospital for delivery.

Copies of all your medical records, as well as a summary of your pregnancy and care so far, will be provided to the alternate hospital.

You will be transferred via Ambulance, from Gladstone Hospital to the alternate hospital, at no cost to you. If it is safe to do so, you may be able to make your own way to the alternate hospital.

Accommodation support is available, while you are away from home, with no cost to you.

No matter where you give birth, Gladstone Hospital staff will provide pre- and post-natal care to you and your baby.

If you are pregnant and have any questions or concerns, please contact your Midwifery Group Practice (MGP) midwife or the Gladstone Hospital Maternity Unit on (07) 4976 3375 for assessment and advice.

The future of birthing services in Gladstone

We understand your health outcomes suffer when healthcare services are fragmented.

It is our goal to create a healthcare structure and culture that prioritises patient-centred care.

We are building a long-term plan for the Central Queensland Health Maternity Care Network. It is our goal to provide a coordinated, collaborative model for delivering safe, sustainable obstetric care closest to home for our mothers and babies.

This project has involved extensive consultation with our hardworking staff currently working in maternity care delivery, and more broadly across the health service. We look forward to sharing updates on this project as it progresses.

In the meantime, we are progressing a number of options to fill service gaps, including centralising graduate midwifery recruitment, improving our education and training opportunities such as supporting our staff to access advanced neonatal training, upgrading equipment and expanding rural generalist models across Central Queensland.

In the meantime, we will continue to update the community.

We sincerely thank expectant mothers, their families and the broader Gladstone community for your understanding during this time as we continue to do everything possible to return birthing services to Gladstone Hospital.

Last updated: 20 September 2022