Frustration remains surrounding delay of midwife program at Leeton District Hospital

The ‘Save Griffith Hospital’ campaign has other MIA councils taking notice, including one particular mayor critical of his shire’s hospital services and resources.

Leeton Shire Council mayor Paul Maytom said Griffith’s current health climate means the Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) should be keeping all local governments informed when it came to any decisions regarding health services and possible downgrading. 

His call comes as frustration builds among the Leeton community with the continual delay in having babies birthed at the town’s hospital. 

The MLHD is yet to implement its midwifery-led model of care, meaning low-risk babies still can’t be born at the Leeton District Hospital. 

Training of the hospital’s midwives is continuing, but Leeton Shire Council mayor Paul Maytom said he had questioned why it was taking so long. 

“Of course we do want them to be following due course and for the midwives to be getting this extra training,” he said. 

“However, in saying that, we were told it would be in place by the middle of the year and that has come and gone. 

“We are hearing August now, but there are some frustrations in the community as to why it’s taking so long.”

The midwifery-led model of care would allow babies to be born at the hospital again. 

Ideally, councillor Maytom said the goal would be to attract an practicing GP with obstetrician credentials to town, so if a situation arose, that person could be called on. 

MLHD executive director for medical services Doctor Wendy Cox refused to give a date for when the midwifery model would be implemented as it was still being worked on. 

“This includes additional training and education for Leeton midwives, with five local midwives currently completing their upskilling,” Dr Cox said.

There are also advertisements for two GP/VMO proceduralists on the Rural Doctors Network recruitment site.

“Once an appropriately qualified doctor is recruited to Leeton, we would welcome the opportunity to have them credentialed as a VMO obstetrician to provide birthing services,” Dr Cox said.

Cr Maytom said council would help wherever possible with the recruitment process, including offering some sort of incentive to come to Leeton. 

“That may be to help with relocation costs or something along those lines,” he said. 

“Ideally we want an OB here in Leeton so if there is a higher risk situation it can be handled. We do have faith in our midwives. They are being trained and upskilled and I have no doubt they will be fantastic.”