Maternity services are being restored at the Bellinger River District Hospital.
Maternity services are being restored at the Bellinger River District Hospital.

Hospital gets maternity services

THE re-birthing of maternity services at the Bellinger River District Hospital is under way.

A shortage of nurses with the necessary qualifications is all that now stands in the way of local mums having access to a fully functioning maternity service.

The North Coast Area Health Service (NCAHS) has just employed one generalist nurse with maternity qualifications but at least four more are needed.

NCAHS chief executive Chris Crawford said he doesn’t know how long the recruitment process will take.

“We are advertising on our (NCAHS) website and on SEEK but the shortage of generalist nurses with maternity qualifications is nationwide and so I can’t say how long it will take to have the five nurses on the roster that will give us the capability to provide a full maternity service,” Mr Crawford said.

“We need to have at least one of these nurses on each shift, so until we have the full complement of five, we can only offer a limited service,” he said.

“The rolling job advertisements will stay online until we have filled all five positions.”

Mr Crawford said that contrary to public perception, babies can be, and still are, being born at Bellingen.

“There were 49 babies born there in 07/08 and I believe we’ve had a few deliveries in the past few months, so in effect, the hospital has retained its maternity capabilities,” he said.

“As more nurses with the necessary qualifications are employed, we will move from limited to substantial and then full maternity services.”

The Chair of the Bellingen Health Action group (BHAG), Pia Dollmann, said the community would be overjoyed to know the vital service is being restored.

This is exactly what we wanted and it is what this community campaigned for,” Ms Dollmann said.

“We (BHAG) are now considering how we can play a part in finding more nurses with maternity qualifications,” she said. “The sooner we can attract them to Bellingen the better it will be for our community’s expectant mothers.”



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