Rural Qld maternity services to be probed

A Queensland Health task force will be reconvened to look into maternity services in remote parts of Queensland amid concerns that a lack of obstetrics care is putting expectant mums and babies at risk.

The death rate in rural areas without birthing services is 23.3 babies per 1000 born, almost four times higher than in towns with an obstetrics unit, The Sunday Mail reported.

Health Minister Steven Miles said the task force would begin working within two weeks but assured mothers and families that the Queensland health service is world class.

The panel of doctors and health practitioners will look at the mortality data used in the report, along with the recommendations made in 2014 to see what new action needs to be taken.

Mr Miles said any new maternity services provided in rural areas must be done with patient safety in mind.

He said it was difficult for small towns to keep birthing centres when only few babies are born there each year.

"(Health workers) may only see a birth every month or six weeks. It's difficult for them to maintain their accreditation, their skills, when they're seeing that lower level of births," he said.

The Rural Doctors Association of Queensland welcomed the review as an important first step to stabilising services in rural areas.

"There are a number of sites in Queensland that have worked under stress for some time, these communities have had birthing services which intermittently and even regularly go on bypass," obstetrician and president Dr Neil Beaton said in a statement.