A survey of women who have used Longreach Hospital’s maternity service has shown overwhelming support for and satisfaction with the service.

Health and Ambulance Services Minister Steven Miles said initial responses to the survey had highlighted just how well regarded the service was.

The recently completed survey of women who had their babies while living in the Central West between 2014 and 2018 received 122 responses.

“On average, between 80–90 per cent of the responses indicated high satisfaction levels with most aspects of the maternity service,’’ Mr Miles said.

“Almost 88 per cent of respondents said they would deliver in Longreach again and recommend it to others.

“More than half of respondents said they chose to birth at Longreach because of the convenience of being closer to home, rather than having to leave the region entirely.

“Around 85 per cent of respondents also agreed that their birth preferences were well supported.

“The quality of the maternity service’s ante and postnatal care also received high marks.

“These are very positive results and I believe the Longreach Hospital maternity unit should be very proud of what has been achieved. I congratulate them.’’

Mr Miles said the results of the survey would be used to develop future enhancements to the maternity service.

“For instance, the survey indicated that 100 per cent of women were either satisfied or very satisfied with their appointments by telehealth, with the convenience of not having to travel being one of the main reasons,’’ he said.

“As a result, the maternity unit will be looking at further optimising the use of telehealth wherever possible, especially for outlying towns.’’

Mr Miles said the maternity unit was significantly upgraded in March last year as part of a $14.5 million redevelopment of Longreach Hospital.

“As part of the redevelopment, the maternity unit was relocated from the ground floor to the first floor and offers three single ensuite rooms, a birth suite, a maternity assessment room, a nursery and an equipment room,’’ Mr Miles said.

“The ensuite rooms in particular have been very well-received, with very positive feedback from women and their families.

“Indeed, just over 95 per cent of respondents to the maternity survey were satisfied or very satisfied with the new birth suite and the overall maternity ward.

“The three single rooms on the maternity ward are big rooms with an ensuite but also an area with a sink where mums can give their babies baths.

“The birthing suite importantly also allows space for family to be with a woman and the birthing team during the birth of a baby if they choose.’’

Mr Miles said, on average, around 60 babies a year were born at Longreach Hospital.

“But it looks like this year, they are going to reach 70-80 births due to the increasing popularity of the service,’’ he said.

“Indeed, August is shaping up to be the single largest birthing month since 2013, with 12 births currently expected that month.’’

Mr Miles said Longreach was a good example of a successful rural birthing service, with sufficient births to support accredited teams of clinicians to deliver safe services.

He said the maternity service midwifery staff were supported by allied health professionals and General Practitioners with specialist training in obstetrics.

“For women who have complications in their pregnancy, the Longreach maternity team has close contact with maternal foetal medicine, obstetric medicine and perinatal mental health teams at several tertiary hospitals,’’ he said.

“The experiences of successful and popular maternity services such as Longreach form part of the evidence base that is currently being reviewed by the Rural Maternity Taskforce as we look at ways to help improve services in country areas.’’

Mr Miles said a two-day forum would be held in Cairns on 18–19 June as part of ongoing efforts to strengthen birthing services across Queensland.

The Maternity Summit will overview the outcomes of Queensland Health-led projects undertaken by the Rural Maternity Taskforce and the Maternity Service Action Group, which was initiated from the 2016 Maternity Service Forum.

“A full day of the summit will be dedicated to outlining 10 months of work carried out by the Rural Maternity Taskforce,’’ Mr Miles said.

“Experts from across the state, including private specialists, medical and midwifery advocacy groups, will be invited to exchange ideas and help improve services.

“Every woman deserves every chance to have her baby safely and although Queensland is one of the safest places in the word to give birth, we continue to look at ways to improve.

“We convened the Rural Maternity Taskforce to gather information and examine what steps can be taken to minimise risk for mothers and babies in rural and remote communities, while providing services as close as possible to where they live.

“This information will be revealed and open for discussion at the summit, which will be attended by delegates from all over Queensland.’’

ENDS