22 March 2019

Midwife shortage closes Calvary Private postnatal ward

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Calvary Private will no longer offer birthing options for northside women. File photo.

Calvary Private Hospital at Bruce has made the surprise decision to close their postnatal maternity ward on April 28, limiting private birthing options for women on Canberra’s northside. The Hospital says it’s simply unable to find enough midwives to consistently staff the ward.

In a statement, Calvary Private’s General Manager Elaine Bell said the decision had been made “after extensive national and international recruitment efforts failed to attract sufficient suitable candidates to the midwifery team”.

Ms Bell said that Calvary Private had invested significant resources into their post-natal service over the past two years to try and resolve the situation. However, it came down to a structural issue based on the level of services offered, and for that reason was unlikely to change.

“Patient care and safety is our number one priority,” she said, explaining that the Calvary Bruce Private Hospital service was originally established as a postnatal model only. The lack of a birthing centre had hindered the private hospital’s ability to attract and retain midwives because of their preference to gain experience in a facility which offers a full obstetric service.

“Without a long-term and stable midwifery team, the only option was to no longer offer post-natal services. We have contacted all the women booked into the service and have begun discussions around alternative birthing and postnatal care options available to them.”

“Specialists will be able to offer women private birthing and postnatal care at Calvary John James Hospital or Calvary Public Hospital and we can assure them that their continuity of care will not be disrupted,” Ms Bell said.

The Calvary Public maternity ward re-opened in July 2018 after an extensive refurbishment valued at around $2.6 million. The revamp was funded by the ACT government in response to continuing population growth in Gungahlin, West Belconnen and Molonglo.

The decision reflects a growing shortage of midwives across Canberra maternity services, and a movement towards public hospitals following the end of the baby bonus. Anecdotally, some midwives prefer working in a birth centre setting where they are able to provide a full range of services through pregnancy and delivery. Midwifery-led care is more typically available in a public hospital setting, while private patients will choose obstetric-led care.

Anyone who may still have queries about the closure of services is encouraged to contact Calvary Private Hospital on 6245 3100.

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