Proposal to give life to dream birthing facility

THE dream of having a state-of-the-art birthing unit at Bellinger River Hospital appears one step closer to reality following a meeting between the North Coast Area Health Service officers and Bellingen doctors late on Friday.

Dr Trevor Cheney described the meeting as positive and a welcome development. “The Area Health Service presented a draft model of team care to Dr Deidre Little and myself,” Dr Cheney said.

“Under the draft proposal local staff would be involved in the revamping of the hospital's maternity unit.

“We have been requesting involvement in the process and participation has now taken place.”

Dr Cheney said however the future of the unit was not confirmed as no firm decision about either the proposal or funding had been made.

“We are not out of the woods yet. But given permission, we could certainly operate a centre of excellence.”

Recent rumours around the town of the unit's pending closure have left both staff and the community feeling confused.

Doctors Cheney and Little had previously submitted their model of team care to the service but had not received any invitations to attend planning meetings to offer local input.

“My vision is to offer safe, family-focused local care with doctors and midwives working together.

“This style of facility keeps the pressure off the big facilities, which need to be attending to the high-risk deliveries.

“By offering this service for low-risk deliveries, we can assist the service.”

The draft proposal and its associated funding will be discussed by the NCAHS at a meeting in Lismore on July 15.

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