Concerns family birthing centre may not be part of new maternity hospital

May 25, 2022 | Libby Mettam MLA, State News

There are concerns WA’s new flagship $1.8bn Women and Babies Hospital project may not include a family birthing centre after the Health Minister stated no decision had been made around it yet.

During Budget Estimates yesterday, the government could not say whether the centre would be included on the site with the Health Minister saying the “vibe” of how she feels is that “I am not sure if should be in a tertiary health campus..”.

Shadow Health Minister Libby Mettam said the answer was disappointing given the importance of the option to expectant mothers and urged the government to provide certainty going forward.

“The Family Birthing Centre provides a safe and non-clinical environment for low-risk expectant mothers to birth with the security of knowing there are obstetric services close by in the hospital if needed,” Ms Mettam.

“For the Health Minister to say her ‘vibe’ was unsure is really unsettling and understandly deeply concerning for the many mothers that choose this option.

“In the 21st century in a state-of-the-art maternity hospital, it is not unreasonable for women to expect this would be an option available to them.

“We need transparency and certainty this important facility won’t simply fall by the wayside if priority is given to clinical services in planning for the new hospital.”

Ms Mettam also questioned when the project would actually be built given no clear timeframe has yet been outlined.

“Last year, we had multiple occasions where expectant mothers were diverted away from our largest maternity hospital, King Edward Memorial Hospital, because there was no capacity to take them,” Ms Mettam said.

“We know this also occurred at other hospitals with a pregnant mum of twins among those diverted before finally giving birth at Fiona Stanley Hospital.

“Given the pressure on our health system and the shortfall to deal with current demand, this project needs to be fast-tracked as a priority.

“At present, all there is in the budget is money for a business case and a plan for a plan.

“There is no timeframe for expected start or completion of this project and I hope it will not be simply rolled out as another election promise in 2025 for completion some time in the future as we’ve seen with other infrastructure promises from this government.”