Birthing Service To Start At Weipa

Minister for Health, Mental Health and Ambulance Services and Minister for Women The Honourable Shannon Fentiman
  • Birthing services at Weipa Integrated Health Service will begin from 22 May.
  • The service is expected to initially support around 50 births a year from the communities of Weipa, Mapoon, Napranum and Aurukun.
  • The recently appointed Western Director of Medical Services and Rural Generalist in Obstetrics as well as the Director of Midwifery for the Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service (TCHHS) are based in Weipa.

Expectant mothers in the Western Cape region will soon be able to give birth closer to home with the commencement of birthing services at Weipa Integrated Health Service on 22 May 2024.

This service will remove the need to travel to Cairns to give birth for many women in the region and enable them to have their babies on country or close to country.

There are 18 expectant mothers who are due to give birth between 1 June and 31 August that have been identified as being suitable to birth at Weipa if they choose.

A Midwifery Group Practice (MGP) has been delivering full antenatal and postnatal services in Weipa since late 2022 while work was under way to introduce a full birthing service.

The MGP will continue to provide wrap around support for women with higher risk pregnancies who need to travel to a larger centre to access specialised higher risk services.

The TCHHS recently appointed Dr John Hall, a Rural Generalist in Obstetrics, as the Western Director of Medical Services, based out of Weipa. He has been joined by the newly appointed TCHHS Director of Midwifery, Michelle O’Connor.

The Miles Government is committed to improving access to healthcare for all Queenslanders and has invested $42 million to bring maternity care closer to home for regional, rural and remote women across the state.

This investment will enable Queensland Health to expand outreach obstetrics and gynaecology services, strengthen models of maternity care, and support existing maternity sites to continue providing safe birthing services.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health and Minister for Women Shannon Fentiman:

“I know how important it is for women to birth on country, or close to country, and I am so proud that today we can make this possible.

“Having to travel to Cairns to birth can have a huge impact on families.

“This new service will ensure more choice and safe access to maternity care for expectant mums in the Western Cape region.

“It’s fantastic to see the recruitment of midwives, doctors, First Nations health workers, nurses, allied health professionals and administration staff for the service is now complete.

“The hardworking health care workers at Weipa care day in and day out for their community and I thank them for it.

“It’s exciting to see both a Rural Generalist in Obstetrics, Dr Hall and a Director of Midwifery Ms O’Connor be appointed, this is a positive step forward for birthing services and for women in the far north.

“Our team of health heroes will ensure women in Weipa and surrounding communities will have access to the world class maternity care they deserve, closer to home.”

Quotes attributable to Member for Cook Cynthia Lui:

“The new Weipa birthing unit is expected to initially support about 50 births a year for the broader Cape communities including Weipa, Aurukun, Mapoon and Napranum, with additional communities brought online as the service grows.

“This birthing unit will mean a significant number of pregnant women in these communities will not have to travel to Cairns to have their babies.

“Birthing on Country or a close to home as possible is so important for First Nations communities.

“The social, economic, and cultural cost of leaving community for over a month, in a foreign environment, without family supports, to have their babies cannot be overstated.

“I am so proud that our government took the time to ensure a safe birthing service was available for women and their families.

“The LNP sacked 96 health heroes from the Torres and Cape Hospital and Health service when they were last in government, including midwives.

“Only a Labor Government will take the time to ensure the safety of women’s birthing services instead of risking Queenslander’s lives for cheap political points.”

Quotes attributable to President of the Rural Doctors Association Queensland, Dr Alex Dunn:

“Attracting and retaining skilled General Practitioner Obstetricians (GPO) to live and work rurally is crucial to ensuring rural women are supported to birth as close to home as possible.

“I commend the Queensland Government prioritising and valuing the collaborative models of care with midwives and rural generalists work in collaboration, in a woman-centred way, supporting women to have broadest range of choices possible.”

Quotes attributable to Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service Western Director of Medical Services Dr John Hall:

“As a past president of the Rural Doctors Association, I was heavily involved in advocacy for bringing birthing back to rural communities.

“It’s so good to see the government’s practical support for local birthing and the implementation of recommendations from the rural maternity taskforce.

“I was attracted to take on the permanent Director of Medical Services role in Weipa, as a GP Obstetrician because of the existing high-quality team of midwives and doctors that had a passion to open the birthing service for the local community.

“Bringing birthing back to Weipa will maintain and attract a skilled workforce that will ensure other hospital-based services thrive and continue like emergency and critical care, and ongoing access to operating theatres, enabling a broad range of operations and specialty services.”

Quotes attributable to Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service Director of Midwifery Ms Michelle O’Connor:

“I’d like to thank women and families in Weipa and the surrounding area for their understanding as we worked towards introducing a safe and sustainable birthing service at Weipa Integrated Health Service,” Ms O’Connor said.

“This required the establishment of a multidisciplinary clinical team including midwives, nurses, allied health, and administration staff, as well doctors with advanced training in obstetrics and anaesthetics.

“Recruitment of the team has been challenging; however, we are confident we can now we can get on with providing a birthing service for women and families.

“The is about making sure rural and remote women get the best possible care and I am very cognisant and aware of the cultural importance of birthing and how important that is for remote women.”

/Public Release. View in full here.