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  • Budget boost for Qld regional maternity services

    Author: AAP

Remote, regional and rural maternity services will be bolstered with a $42 million boost in the Queensland budget to be handed down next week.

The funding comes as the government remains under pressure over gaps in the state's maternity services.

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Gladstone Hospital had been on birthing bypass since mid-2022 before the hospital reintroduced elective caesareans in October and 24/7 emergency obstetric care in early February.

Women with no known complications can now give birth at Gladstone Hospital, but patients with identified risk factors are still referred to alternative services.

The $42 million investment over four years will expand rural services and increase the capacity for regional hospitals to perform low-risk births.

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Flying Obstetric and Gynaecology services, including telehealth-enabled care, will also be expanded.

Health Minister Shannon Fentiman acknowledged the impact of the widespread shortage of maternity services in rural and regional Queensland.

Mothers have been forced to travel hundreds of kilometres for medical treatment throughout their pregnancy, with many forced to stay close to essential services to give birth.

"That has meant it has been tough for many mums and families to have their babies close to home," the minister told reporters on Friday.

"I am absolutely determined to deliver for local families because we want women to have the very best health care close to home, especially when it comes to maternity services."

The minister said the investment boost would reduce the need for women in regional areas to travel to larger centres.

"We know that providing maternity services close to where women live significantly improves health and well-being outcomes for both the mother and baby," Ms Fentiman said.

"Without this funding, there is a significant risk of higher incidences of preterm births, as well as increasing cultural distress where women are unable to maintain familial support for birth.

"This also allows culturally responsive care and 'birthing on country' to become an accessible service for First Nations women."

The minister also hoped the announcement would restore maternity services at Gladstone Hospital.

"I flew to Gladstone, and I met with women, and I've met with the health and hospital service there, and I hope to have some very good news about Gladstone being restored to full service very soon."

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