Count corrected

THE Murrumbidgee Health District (MLHD) has had to back flip on original figures it provided regarded the amount of births at Leeton District Hospital each year.

Last month MLHD announced it had temporarily ceased birthing services at the hospital, with expecting mothers notified they would have to give birth in Griffith or Wagga.

At the time, MLHD said there were 50 births at the Leeton hospital each year. 

However, the organisation has had to correct that amount, which is typically more than double that on an annual basis. 

In 2013 there were 88 births at the hospital, 92 in 2014 and 95 last year. 

Already this year 31 babies have been born at the hospital.

MLHD executive director nursing and midwifery Karen Cairney was aware the service was a crucial at the hospital.

“Work is under way by our specialist midwifery clinicians in consultation with Leeton hospital and other stakeholders to develop the midwifery-led model of care,” she said.

“Until the model is in place, all births will take place at Griffith or Wagga. 

“The midwifery-led model of care will enable midwives to birth babies for women who are well with uncomplicated pregnancies.

“The local health district acknowledges that we do need medical cover to support the proposed midwifery-led model of care. 

“We will work with (Leeton) general practitioners and visiting medical officers to recruit suitably skilled GP obstetricians to Leeton.”

The MLHD’s decision to temporarily suspend the birthing services at the hospital has been met with concern in the community. 

Leeton Shire Council has been working with MLHD, with the Health Services Union of Australia (HSU) also looking in to the issue.

An HSU spokesman said the organisation was concerned about the situation and would continue to work with staff.

The spokesman said if it became permanent it would be detrimental to the town because there would be job losses in the way of maternity ward support staff.

The comments come after Australian Salaried Medical Officers' Federation president Dr Tony Sara said a midwifery model of care at the hospital without obstetric oversight would be unsafe.

He said midwives needed to be able to call an obstetrician in an emergency.