A FORMER Leeton resident is fearful returning to her home town could spell danger for her unborn child.
Katherine Barraclough is 37 weeks pregnant with her second child and won’t be returning to Leeton to visit family until her baby is born.
Ms Barraclough was shocked and dismayed to learn the Leeton District Hospital was still without an obstetrician.
She said she wouldn’t be putting her baby’s life at risk by visiting Leeton while still pregnant.
Currently working as a solicitor in Canberra, Ms Barraclough said the lack of an obstetrician in Leeton meant the lives of pregnant women and their babies were at risk.
“With my first baby I was happy to visit Leeton close to my due date as I knew obstetric care was available and I had confidence I would have the best care if needed,” she said.
“While the quality of midwifery at Leeton is still, I am sure, outstanding, I am concerned about the lack of an obstetrician in an emergency.”
The Murrumbidgee Local Health District didn’t commit to saying it was actively seeking an obstetrician for the hospital, but rather it would welcome the “opportunity to credential a general practitioner obstetrician for Leeton”.
Leeton Health Service manager Jenny Tyrrell said there were currently no eligible, full-time general practitioners with a diploma of obstetrics in the shire.
“Therefore, Leeton hospital does not meet NSW Health requirements to provide birthing services,” she said.
“Midwives are completing additional training off-site in preparation for the start of the midwifery-led model of care.
“A steering committee and working party have been established.
“Before the new model is finally implemented, a NSW Health risk assessment is being undertaken.
“This will include conversations with key stakeholders, including community members.”
The hospital is providing antenatal and postnatal care for families.
Despite that, Ms Barraclough was adamant more questions than answers continued to be raised.
“Does Griffith hospital have the capacity to birth additional babies?” she asked.
“What is being done about the negative impacts on women and their families being so removed from obstetric care?”
Once the midwifery-led model of care is implemented, midwives will be able to birth “low-risk” women at the hospital.