23 February, 2023
Birthing services still suspended
COOKTOWN mothers have spent a year without birthing services at their local hospital as a staff shortage forced the service to be suspended and mothers having to travel hundreds of kilometres weeks in advance of delivery to the nearest hospital.
The Cooktown Multipurpose Health Service suspended its birthing services on 18 February 2022 and still cannot recruit senior medical officers with advanced training in obstetrics and anaesthetics.
Without them, the hospital cannot offer safe and sustainable birthing services.
Mothers have been forced to relocate to Cairns or another town with an appropriate hospital as far as 36 weeks out from delivery.
In the meantime, mothers can access funding through the Queensland Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme to assist them with travel and accommodation costs.
Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Beverley Hamerton said Cooktown hospital is not the only hospital in the state struggling to find workers to fill positions.
“Access to midwifery and medical staff for maternity services has been a state-wide issue across Queensland and indeed right across Australia,” she said.
“All health services have faced significant challenges recruiting such clinicians, but we are using every resource and network at our disposal to find suitable candidates.
“In the meantime, our dedicated staff at Cooktown have continued to provide unwavering support and a commitment to maintain continuity of care to our community.”
At this stage, there is no definitive date for the service to reopen.