A survey of women who have used Longreach Hospital’s maternity service has shown overwhelming support for and satisfaction with the service.
Central West Hospital and Health Service Senior Medical Officer Dr Kirsten Symmons said the survey showed the maternity service was very highly regarded.
The survey targetted women who had their babies while living in the Central West between 2019 and 2021 and received 60 full responses.
“About 70 per cent of the women who responded had their births in Longreach, while the remainder chose to give birth outside the region,’’ Dr Symmons said.
“Nearly 92 per cent of women who responded had their antenatal care in the Central West, either directly through the public maternity service or through a combination of public maternity service and shared care with their GP.
“While the remainder chose antenatal care through a private obstetrician, they all had some care also delivered through Central West Health GPs and midwives.
“A total of 88 per cent of respondents indicated high satisfaction levels with their antenatal care through the public maternity service and 92.6 per cent were highly satisfied with their antenatal care delivered through shared care with their GP and the public system.
“About 95 per cent of respondents said they would deliver in Longreach again and recommend it to others, an increase on the 88 per cent recorded in the 2019 survey.
“These are very positive results and I believe the Longreach Hospital maternity unit should be very proud of what has been achieved.’’
Dr Symmons said the results of the latest survey, like the 2019 survey, would be used to develop future enhancements to the maternity service.
“For instance, the 2019 survey indicated 100 per cent of women were either satisfied or very satisfied with their appointments by telehealth and with the convenience of not having to travel being one of the main reasons,’’ she said.
“As a result of the 2019 survey result, we looked at further optimising the use of telehealth wherever possible, especially for outlying towns.
“This has paid dividends with 23.3 per cent of women now receiving telehealth appointments, compared with just 6.2 per cent in the 2019 survey.
“But we can’t rest on our laurels. We are continually looking at ways we can improve our maternity and birthing services and what we can do better.
“Continuing feedback from our clients is a vital element in helping maintain high standards of service.’’
Dr Symmons said around 60 babies a year, on average, were born at Longreach Hospital.
She said the Longreach Hospital unit operated as a Midwifery Group Practice, where each woman was assigned a known midwife who would provide most of her care pre, during and post-birth.
For a woman who lives out of Longreach, her midwife will liaise with the local midwifery staff in her community.
Women also have the options of shared care with their regular GP, including the visiting Royal Flying Doctor Service doctors, or public care with a GP obstetrician at Longreach hospital.
Dr Symmons said the Longreach Hospital maternity unit offered three single ensuite rooms, a birth suite, a maternity assessment room, a nursery, and an equipment room.
“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,’’ she said.
“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.
“More than 97 per cent of women who delivered in Longreach reported that they were satisfied with the Longreach Hospital birth suite and maternity ward.
“We also have on-site accommodation at no cost at Longreach Hospital for women in the lead- up to giving birth from 36 weeks onwards. This is particularly convenient for women who live away from Longreach.
“Fifty-two percent of women who delivered in Longreach stayed in the free accommodation provided by
Central West Health.
“Of these women, 81.8 per cent reported that this contributed to their decision to deliver in Longreach and 90.9 per cent were satisfied with the accommodation provided.’’
Dr Symmons said the maternity unit’s midwifery staff were supported by allied health professionals and General Practitioners with advanced training in obstetrics.
“In addition to our Longreach Midwifery Group Practice midwives at the birthing unit, our Central West Health midwives also provide outreach ante and postnatal services throughout the region, as does our partner the Royal Flying Doctor Service,’’ she said.
“Our Child Health team also plays a big part in our comprehensive service.
“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.
“We help coordinate reviews with these teams, often by telehealth. Many of these women go on to deliver in Longreach.
“All in all, we have an excellent maternity service for the Central West here at Longreach.’’