Murrumbidgee Local Health district says it is putting plenty of effort into finding Leeton an obstetrician

THE push is on and residents won’t be stopping until an obstetrician is found for the town and wider area. 

The Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) has been advertising the position of a visiting medical officer (VMO) general practitioner obstetrician for Leeton, but to date no applications have been received. 

With residents wanting more action from MLHD, cluster manager Doctor Elizabeth Harford said the organisation was doing everything it could to attract sometime to take up the position in Leeton. 

”(We are) working with local doctors, the Rural Doctors Network, Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network and Leeton Council in recruitment efforts,” she said. 

“(We are also) working with rural university medical training hubs – University of NSW and University of Notre Dame – to develop training and retention models in MLHD.

“The MLHD workforce unit is developing a video of Leeton and the local GP practices for recruitment marketing on YouTube.”

However, while the recruitment process drags on and midwives continue to receive upskilling training to be able to deliver “low risk” babies, women are still having to drive either to Wagga or Grifith to give birth. 

“For a Leeton mother to give birth, the journey to an obstetric unit is too far, but she has no alternative other than endanger her life and that of her newborn, and travel a distance of one-and-a-half hours,” long-time Leeton resident Margaret Sands said in a post on The Irrigator’s Facebook page. 

Dr Harford said MLHD always preferred women to “birth where appropriate in their local communities close to family and support systems”. She said the organisation was running a targeted campaign to fill the position and will soon enlist the help of recruitment agencies. 

“The midwifery model of care is a model that can be implemented permanently and will also work with GP obstetricians,” Dr Harford said.