Doorstop – closure of obstetrics services at Flinders Private Hospital

Friday, 15 March 2019

Doorstop, Adelaide

JOURNALIST: Amanda, as a mum who is going to give birth in the next few months, how is this impacted on you as a mum first?

AMANDA RISHWORTH, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT: Obviously what I’ve felt is uncertainty and anxiety about the future as someone who might be one of the last people to give birth at this hospital. I am very concerned about a range of different issues including the follow up services that are usually available through this hospital, including lactation consultants as well as other professional services. But in addition to that, of course we are also going to see the closure of the neonatal services here at this private hospital, which I think is concerning. I think I have been feeling anxious, as many women in the Southern Suburbs would also be feeling about this closure. There would be mums expecting to give birth here in August, September, even November and to find this information out through the media I think is very concerning. I think a lot of staff and obstetricians only found out about this yesterday. So I think the handling by the hospital has not been that well done, to reassure patients and women of the Southern Suburbs that they are going to get the services they need. The uncertainty around this would be very concerning and many women into the future would be wondering what type of service they’re going to get.

JOURNALIST: So what does this mean for you?

RISHWORTH: For me it will depend on when I am giving birth. If it is in late July then I hope I’ll still be able to give birth at this hospital, of course if it’s after that date then I’m not sure what will happen. I think a lot of people have been left in limbo, but as I said there is also the extra services that come with this hospital whether that’s the lactation services or other services that are really important. Those post-birth services are really important in ensuring mums and dads get the support they need. This is a really concerning development for women right across the Southern Suburbs, and I’m particularly concerned about those that are giving birth in the second half of this year, probably their plans will be up in limbo.

JOURNALIST: Has the hospital spoken to you about your options and what are your options?

RISHWORTH: The hospital has had no communication with those that are connected with the hospital from my understanding. I think as I said the staff and the obstetricians associated with this hospital were informed as of yesterday. So not a lot of notice to prepare people. I hope that I will be one of the last parents to give birth here, but that leaves questions for so many others. So little notice is one of the concerning elements of this but also access to maternity services and importantly neonatal services. I would make the other comment that there is a unique position that Flinders Private has when it comes to maternity services and that is it’s connection to a tertiary hospital. Next door having Flinders Medical Centre provides a really good synergy if things go wrong or if some extra support is needed, medical intervention, then you’ve got that synergy of having services available right next to a tertiary hospital. That important synergy will be lost when these obstetrics services close down.

JOURNALIST: What are your options? Is it driving an hour to Ashford?

RISHWORTH: Well my understanding is the closest hospital offering these services is Ashford and for me, I live in Hallett Cove, it’s not too far but for those that live in Seaford or Aldinga that is a huge hike for people that need these services. So that is my understanding at the moment, I think it’s incumbent on the hospital to clarify for those patients what the alternative arrangements will be. The hospital has not made it clear about what those arrangements will be.

JOURNALIST: Playing devil’s advocate, is it the case that you’ll still keep your obstetrician, you’ll still keep services of a hospital, you’ll just move from that hospital around the corner to a different hospital with the same services?

RISHWORTH: It’s a question of whether that obstetrician has admitting rights and can provide those services, we are not sure where these services will be able to be provided. Obviously Flinders Medical Centre has a significant demand on it so I’m not sure there is a clear pathway forward about where these women will be able to give birth.

JOURNALIST: There’s roughly three births a day that happen here at Flinders Private, will Flinders Medical Centre be able to cope with three extra births a day?

RISHWORTH: I think that is a question for SA Health and the Minister about what Flinders Public Hospital will be able to manage, but I think the issue is that providing these services to the Southern Suburbs is really important. And I think this decision by the hospital has not been done with consultation of mothers and families in the Southern Suburbs and that is deeply disappointing.

ENDS

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