Town of Narrogin Mayor Don Ennis has raised concern about the impact closure of the hospital’s maternity services would have on the region, saying it would be “devastating”.
His concern comes after Australian Medical Association WA president Richard Choong said last week maternity services in Narrogin would be at risk if the State Government did not take action to retain them.
“If maternity services at Narrogin are not maintained there will be no maternity wards between Armadale and Albany,” Dr Choong said.
“In the majority of cases, pregnancies are quite planned and organised so the mother and the doctor involved can sort out where delivery is going to occur.
“This is not always the case and where there is an emergency, the lives of both mother and baby can be at risk if urgent care is needed.”
Mr Ennis said while he was not aware of plans to close the maternity services in Narrogin, there was concern services could close after Katanning hospital’s maternity ward was shut down indefinitely.
“There is nothing definite in the air at the moment but they are worried about it, as am I and everybody is in this whole area, because Narrogin Hospital services such a huge area as far as population and distance go,” he said.
WA Country Health Service acting chief executive Felicity Jefferies said there were no plans to suspend maternity services at Narrogin Hospital.
“Currently there are four GP obstetricians working in Narrogin, one more than was available this time last year,” she said.
“One is leaving in November, however the remaining three will continue working with midwives to provide antenatal, birthing and postnatal services at Narrogin Hospital.
“We are continuing to recruit doctors to work in the Wheatbelt, in particular Narrogin and Katanning, through the Royalties for Regions-funded Southern Inland Health Initiative.”
Ms Jefferies said it was a very competitive market and there was a national and State shortage of GPs, particularly those with obstetric skills who were prepared to work in rural and remote areas.
Dr Choong said the WA community needed to debate whether maternity services in regional WA were important.
He said it was not just the salaries of medical professionals that were the key to employment but other issues such as time-off, proper housing and the provision for families.
“The AMA believes it is vital that these services continue and the Health Department needs to do all it can to maintain them for future generations,” he said.