12 November 2013

The University of Queensland is hosting a Townsville Rural Birth Summit designed to strengthen and keep birth services viable in the region and in many rural communities.

The 13 November UQ Queensland Centre for Mothers and Babies (QCMB) summit will bring together parents, doctors, midwives, politicians and bureaucrats to find practical solutions for maternity care in rural and remote Queensland.

It follows on from a series of similar events held across regional Queensland this year.

QCMB Director Professor Sue Kruske said maternity services in the bush had steadily declined to the point where many women now had 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 from parents, clinicians and politicians to restore these services.”

Ingham mother Jessica Blake said mothers should have the option of giving birth in their local hospital.

“We can't let fear and frustration dictate where rural mothers are to give birth,” she said.

“Giving birth is a natural process and rural mothers with low-risk pregnancies should have the option of birthing locally.”

Professor Kruske said there was sufficient evidence to support the safety of the different models of care.

“There is unrivalled political will and obvious consumer demand,” she said.

“All that is required is for local and district leaders to take up the challenge and facilitate the change by acting now without delay.”

The Rural Doctors Association of Queensland's Dr Dennis Pashen 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 Northern Queensland,” he said.

The Summit is hosted by the QCMB in partnership with the Rural Doctors Association of Queensland, the Maternity Coalition, the Australian College of Midwives Qld Branch, the Statewide Maternal and Neonatal Clinical Network, and the Statewide Rural and Remote Clinical Network.

The summit runs from 8:45am to 4pm at the Mercure Townsville, 166 Woolcock St, Currajong,

Media: Professor Sue Kruske, Director, Queensland Centre for Mothers and Babies, 0418 882 337