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Birthing services restored in Whyalla

Midwife, Nazifa. PIC – Flinders and Upper North Lower Health Network
Abbie Tiller

Families in Whyalla will be able to give birth in their hometown once more, with birthing services returning to the Whyalla Hospital and Health Service.

From July 1, the Woonabie Birthing Unit will open its doors for birthing to women with low-risk pregnancies who are at 37 weeks or more gestation.

As part of this reopening of birthing services, midwives will be available onsite or on call to care for birthing mothers, and to respond to other maternal emergencies 24 hours a day, seven days per week.

Antenatal and postnatal care will also continue.

A critical lack of midwives forced the closure of birthing services in Whyalla in June last year.

The Malinauskas Labor Government commissioned an independent review to find out how birthing services could be re-established sustainably.

One of the key recommendations was appointing a permanent senior Director of Midwifery. Relocating the birthing unit to a newer part of the hospital was also recommended to help restore birthing services.

The Woonabie Birthing Unit was officially opened in May, offering a bright and fresh space containing five beds with ensuites, two modern birthing suites and two neonatal spaces.

A Midwifery Unit Manager and a number of Midwives have been recruited to deliver high-quality care to pregnant women and their families.

Pregnant women may still be referred to Port Augusta Hospital or alternate services in special circumstances, including those requiring induction of labour or when the number of clients exceeds the capacity of the Whyalla Midwifery Team.

Several experienced midwives from the United Kingdom will be relocating to Whyalla over the coming months to join the dedicated team. This will enable a full return of all maternity services at the Whyalla Hospital.

Lisa, Midwifery Unit Manager, Whyalla Hospital and Health Service and Regional Midwife Educator and Mark Whitfield, Flinders and Upper North Local Health Network Governing Board Chair.
Lisa, Midwifery Unit Manager, Whyalla Hospital and Health Service and Regional Midwife Educator and Mark Whitfield, Flinders and Upper North Local Health Network Governing Board Chair.

“This is an important day for Whyalla and one I’m sure the whole community has been waiting for.” said Chris Picton, Minister for Health and Wellbeing.

“We understand this has taken a long time, but we wanted to make sure birthing services could be re-instated in a safe and appropriate way.

All the staff have done a wonderful job in getting to this point and I know they are excited to have birthing services return.

Our government didn’t waste any time in putting steps in place to ensure birthing services could return as quickly as possible.”

Local Member of Parliament, Eddie Hughes, whose family welcomed three children at Whyalla Hospital, said he was delighted to see birthing services return.

“I want to welcome all the midwives who have moved to Whyalla and I know the community is very grateful to have you here,” he said

It is essential in a community the size of Whyalla that we have a well resourced birthing service.”

Flinders and Upper North Local Health Network Acting Chief Executive Officer, Angela McLachlan said the service will be working very closely with impacted mothers and families to help them plan for the birth of their newborn.

“The staff have been magnificent in preparing for the reopening, and this speaks to their dedication and commitment to local families.

Access to the modern birthing facilities in Woonabie Unit has been crucial in assisting us to attract staff and has also supported our international recruitment efforts.

We look forward to welcoming several more experienced midwives to our team, who will bring valuable expertise and perspectives to our maternity services.”


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