By Jessica Micallef
Macedon mums-to-be will need to drive to either Bendigo, Ballarat, Bacchus Marsh or Sunshine to give birth, after Kyneton District Health’s decision to suspend labour and birthing services.
Kyneton District Health chief executive Maree Cuddihy said the decision to stop delivering babies at the hospital from September 30 followed a “steady decline” in births.
“In 2018-19, there were only 26 babies born at Kyneton District Health, with only women classified as low-risk labour and birth in our birthing suite,” she said.
Despite the changes, pregnancy and postnatal care will continue to be provided at the hospital.
“The decision to change the maternity model of care to one that only provides care for women during their pregnancy, and then again after the baby is born, has followed a steady decline in births at the hospital,” Ms Cuddihy said.
“There has also been increasing challenges in recruiting the skilled workforce required to supporting birthing.
“Recently one of our two GP obstetricians resigned from Kyneton District Health. Across Australia there is a shortage of rural GP obstetricians and GP anesthetists.”
Women who are booked in to give birth at Kyneton District Health will be transferred to an alternative health service.
“Kyneton District Health recognises the importance of local access to pregnancy care and we will develop formal arrangements with the larger metropolitan and regional hospitals,” Ms Cuddihy said.
“Women will be supported to return to Kyneton District Health as soon as possible following birth and to have our staff provide support and care prior to returning home.
“The board and senior executives are very disappointed to not be able to continue to support local families to birth close to home.
“The safety of all our patients, including local women and their babies, remains our number one priority.”