Kyneton District Health is disappointed to announce that it will suspend labour and birth care at the maternity service at Kyneton Hospital from 30th September 2019.

However, pregnancy and postnatal care will continue to be provided.

The safety of mothers and their babies and the provision of safe and high quality care always has to come first.

In 2018-19 there were only 26 babies born at Kyneton District Health, with only women classified as low risk able to labour and birth in our birthing suite.

The decision to change the maternity model of care to one that only provides care for women during their pregnancy, and then again after the baby is born, has followed a steady decline in births at the hospital.

There have also been increasing challenges in recruiting the skilled workforce required to support birthing.

Recently one of our two GP obstetricians resigned from KDH. Across Australia there is a shortage of rural GP Obstetricians and GP Anaesthetists.

Around 50 per cent of women are transferred to metropolitan or regional hospitals as their pregnancy progresses due to changes to their or their baby’s health.

We will continue to investigate other models of care.

Women who have been booked to birth at KDH will be supported to transfer to another health service to ensure it is a seamless transition for them.

Women will be supported to return to KDH as soon as possible following birth and to have our staff provide support and care prior to returning home.

Local women may still be able to receive pregnancy care at KDH under the care of midwives in an antenatal clinic, with obstetrician oversight coming from the hospital where they are booked to birth.

KDH recognizes the importance of local access to pregnancy care and we will develop formal arrangements with the larger metropolitan and regional hospitals to streamline the care for pregnant women.

While KDH recognises that this transition to a new model of care may cause some increased anxiety for women and their families, we hope that the initiative to continue providing local pregnancy care is well received and welcome any feedback about ways the model can be improved.

The board and senior executive are very disappointed to not be able to continue to support local families to birth close to home. The safety of all our patients, including local women and their babies remains our number one priority.

We would also like to thank our dedicated staff, including our GP obstetricians and midwives for the high quality service they have been able to deliver.