Friday, July 23, 2010

Gold Coast Birth Centre update from ACM Qld

Australian College of Midwives - E-Bulletin
Wed 21 July 2010

Gold Coast Birth Centre re-open for business

The unexpected and unwarranted closure of the Gold Coast Birth Centre at 5pm on Thursday 15 July without warning or consultation sent shock waves through the birthing community in South East Queensland and beyond. The Australian College of Midwives Queensland was first notified of the closure through their close links with Maternity Coalition. Action commenced immediately with Friends of the Birth Centre organising a rally in Little High St in front of the CEO’s office on Friday 16 July. ACMQ, Maternity Coalition, Friends of the Birth Centre notified people in the maternity reform network to attend the rally.

500 women and their families gathered at the Gold Coast on Friday at 11am with widespread media action. Deirdrie Cullen led the MC and FBC women in this rally with Dr Kerry Peart from Griffith University and a large number of student midwives joining the rally. Associate Professor Jenny Gamble, media spokesperson for ACMQ, and Deirdre Cullen (FBC) gave many media interviews throughout Thursday night, Friday and Saturday and spoke passionately at the rally about this being an example of poor obstetric behaviour rather than a safety concern.

A link to Channel 9 coverage of the rally posted to YouTube:

A link to Channel 7 coverage of the rally:

Concurrent to the rally being held at the Gold Coast a number of other important meetings and contacts were made. Dr Mary Sidebotham, Vice President of ACMQ and Liz Wilkes met with the Chief Nursing Officer and Dr Belinda Maier, Midwifery Advisor and subsequently with the Director General for Queensland Health, Mick Reid. The DG assured prompt action to re-open the Birth Centre and committed to an independent enquiry of the Gold Coast maternity service with consumer and midwifery involvement.

Hazel Brittain ACMQ President, contacted midwifery managers at the Gold Coast Hospital, while Jocelyn Toohill and Rosemary Blyth supported local midwives and assisted them to deal with the situation. The QNU and local MP’s were briefed.

Following the rally, a noisy group met with the CEO in an impromptu meeting to air concerns. The CEO cited withdrawal of “support” by obstetric consultant staff as the reason for the closure. A core group of women and midwives met with the CEO from 5:30pm and just before 8pm completed negotiations with decision to re-open the Birth Centre immediately. The first birth in the re-opened Birth Centre occurred just after dawn on Saturday morning to a woman who had been rallying and speaking to the media at the rally – women are amazing.

This incident highlights the tenuousness of midwifery group practice and the ability of midwives to provide continuity of care. ACMQ have recently discussed safety and clinical care at the GCH Birth Centre reference group and there have been no reports of concerns. It is extremely important that midwives recognise that these actions are indications of poor collaboration on the part of some specialist obstetric staff and call for appropriate management of all professionals working in the pubic sector.

ACMQ would like to thank the women, babies, husbands, midwives, student midwives and other consumers who gathered at such short notice to support this important and safe service. ACMQ will continue to seek a public statement from the CEO of the Gold Coast District that the service provides high quality midwifery care, excellent clinical outcomes, and that there are no concerns about public safety. We will push for independence in the GCH maternity service review and ensure midwifery and consumer representation.

Go Queeensland maternity reformers - what a team effort!

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