Maternity unit tension threatens training

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The Canberra Hospital's obstetric training program could be at risk unless more doctors with surgical experience are found.

... workplace problems are preventing Canberra-based obstetricians from doing more public work.

As many as 16 registrars ... can be attached to the Canberra Hospital Obstetric and Gynaecology Department at one time.

But RANZCOG spokesman Andrew Foote says five consultant obstetricians have left in just over a year.

"In order to do surgery, you need senior doctors who are seeing the cases and putting the cases on operating lists," he said.

"That has fallen to a quite significant level."

... the Canberra Hospital had "the potential to be a leader in the RANZCOG program throughout Australia and New Zealand."

But in its recommendations it listed "dysfunctional relationships within the Obstetric and Gynaecology Department ...

... conflict between senior staff ... was having an impact on trainees.

... obstetricians would work at the hospital if the conditions were better.

... many of the doctors and registrars who have left the hospital ... complained of a toxic workplace and uncooperative relationships with some midwives.

... they were concerned some midwives raised the alarm too late in emergency situations with potentially disastrous consequences.

"One of the cultural concerns I have is that there's this 'I've failed if I have to call in a doctor', both at the patient level and at the midwife level," ...

... "This concept has been built up and perhaps sold to the public that it is possible to have a pregnancy unencumbered by any medical staff," he said.

Gill Hall from the ACT College of Midwives says most doctors and midwives work well together.

"There's a lot of people in both professions who are working very hard to change the culture and to make practice much more collaborative," she said.

Health Minister Katy Gallagher says the Federal Government's changes to Medicare which will reduce rebates to private obstetricians could be partly behind doctors raising the allegations.

"I think the building of a new Women's and Children's Hospital is causing turbulence and I think the sale of Calvary is causing turbulence," she said ...

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448