5 December 2012

Toowoomba is holding a unique Rural Birth Summit today with the aim of bringing birth facilities back to the bush.

Hosted by The University of Queensland’s Queensland Centre for Mothers & Babies (QCMB), the summit brings together parents, doctors, midwives, politicians and bureaucrats to find practical solutions to strengthen maternity care in rural and remote Queensland.

Guest speaker for the day is Queensland Health Minister, Lawrence Springborg.

QCMB Director Professor Sue Kruske said maternity services in the bush had steadily declined over the years to the point now where many women ended up having to travel to major centres to have their babies.

“Once upon a time, most women were able to give birth in the community they lived in,” Professor Kruske said.

“But over the years, for a number of reasons, birth services have either been downgraded or completely removed from towns all over Queensland.

"What we are seeing now is a growing swell of support to restore these services from parents, clinicians and politicians.”

Anita Campbell, a Stanthorpe mum and consumer representative from Maternity Coalition, said it was encouraging to see so many people working together for a common goal.

“It gives us mums in rural Queensland great hope that we aren’t being forgotten out in the bush,” she said.

Dr John Hall, from the Rural Doctors Association of Queensland, said the day was not just another “talk-fest”.

“We are focused on finding practical solutions to build stronger and more sustainable rural maternity services for communities in Southern Queensland stretching from the southern border, north to Charleville and Kingaroy, west to the South Australian border and east to Beaudesert,” he said.

Hazel Brittain, Queensland President of the Australian College of Midwives, said Beaudesert Hospital was one facility that was reintroducing birth services.

“The maternity unit at Beaudesert was shut down in 2002, but we now have a commitment from the Health Minister, Lawrence Springborg, that birthing services will be available again there by 2014,” she said.

The Summit is hosted by the QCMB in partnership with the Darling Downs and South West Health and Hospital Services; the Rural and Remote Clinical Network; Statewide Maternity and Neonatal Clinical Network, Metro South Health and Hospital Services, Nursing and Midwifery Office of Queensland, Rural Doctors Association of Queensland, Maternity Coalition, and Australian College of Midwives (QLD).

The Summit runs from 9am to 4pm at the City Golf Club in Toowoomba.

Media: Andrew Dunne, QCMB Communications Manager, 0433 364 181.

About the QCMB
The Queensland Centre for Mothers & Babies is an independent research centre based at The University of Queensland and funded by the Queensland Government. The role of the Centre is to work towards consumer-focused maternity care that is integrated, evidence-based and provides optimal choices for women in Queensland