Labor promises to recruit medicos and return maternity services to the Mersey

Labor hopes an election pledge to return routine birthing services to the Mersey Community Hospital and recruit more permanent medicos to the site could be a health game-changer in Braddon.

Labor’s Dr Bastian Seidel said he was confident a level two maternity service delivering routine births and the provision for caesarian sections where necessary could be reintroduced by Labor to the MCH within two years.

It comes as part of Labor’s promise, if elected, to expand clinical services and establish the MCH as a National Centre for Rural Health and Integrated Maternity Care to ensure “high-quality clinical care for the North-West community.”

Mersey Rebirth: Labor has pledged to restore maternity and birthing services at the MCH and recruit more medicos to the site. Picture: Simon Sturzaker.
 Mersey Rebirth: Labor has pledged to restore maternity and birthing services at the MCH and recruit more medicos to the site. Picture: Simon Sturzaker.

“Labor’s vision would see the MCH take advantage of its unique position as a national leader in high-quality clinical care, build on its regional and rural health workforce, and deliver additional funding for building upgrades,” Labor leader Rebecca White said.

She said Labor would invest $2.5 million to establish the National Centre for Rural Health and Integrated Maternity Care and an additional $5 million for capital works at the MCH.

Dr Seidel said it would compliment Labor’s plan to employ an extra five full-time and permanent specialist medical doctors in specialties such as general medicine, general surgery, and obstetrics, and gynaecology. He said two additional emergency medicine specialists would staff the MCH emergency department.

“Labor is also funding an additional 15 permanent positions for nurses and midwives at the MCH,” he said.

“As a National Centre for Rural Health and Integrated Maternity Care, the MCH would also become the statewide training hub for rural generalist doctors with specialist skills in obstetrics, anesthesiology, emergency care, mental health, and palliative care, as well as nurse practitioners and nurse endoscopists,” he said.

Labor also announced an extra 10 permanent medical specialist positions at the NWRH and two additional FTE permanent emergency medicine positions, plus $7.5 million to integrate maternity care with all other publicly available medical services at the NWRH.

However, Liberal health spokesperson Sarah Courtney said in 2015, Dr Seidel agreed with the decision to centralise maternity services in the North West, saying “it is necessary to improve birthing services across the North West Coast”.

“Mr Seidel needs to explain what’s changed between now and then apart from political opportunism,” she said.

She said Labor had copied the Liberal plan for a Rural Medical Workforce Centre at the MCH, provided less funding to support it, and opposed the $55 million redevelopment.

“Labor’s plan means no new kitchen, no new theatre capacity and no new ward to enable new beds to be opened,” she said.

She said the Liberals increased staffing by nearly 50 FTE, including more permanent doctors, nurses and allied health staff, since 2018.