Birth centre closes to mask issues with obstetric leadership

Interested in home birth, hospital birth or private midwifery care? Questions or comments? Email Melissa Maimann or call 0400 418 448. Two articles: Link and Link provide updates on the story reported about the Gold Coast's Birth Centre's sudden closure in July this year.

The closure was prompted by a report of the deaths of three babies and concerns about the safety of the birth centre that had been raised by obstetricians.

However, the catch was that none of the baby deaths had actually occurred in the birth centre: they had occurred in the delivery suite under medical care. The birth centre midwives were not given an explanation as to what safety concerns had been identified. Now, the report of the investigation is out and it appears that the concerns were unfounded. Call me a sceptic, but it seems that the birth centre was scapegoated for the real issue, which lay with the obstetrics department. The review revealed:

"Hospital sorry about birth centre closure" "A review of Gold Coast Hospital's birthing centre has found concerns raised earlier this year about midwifery services are unfounded." "The hospital's CEO ... says midwifery services will now be expanded as a result of the review." "... our birthing centre delivers a very good quality of care and our birth centre midwives deliver an excellent quality of care," "the report identified a lack of a sense of team leadership within obstetrics and gynaecology." "A damning review of the Gold Coast Hospital's birthing services has found deficiencies in the supervision and education of junior staff while an unsupportive culture was allowed to flourish." "the review [made] 30 recommendations ... and found the culture within the service did not actively support the development of staff." "problems came from a lack of leadership"

Interesting that when babies die, or concerns are raised about care delivered in delivery suites, the delivery suites continue to function. I have not heard of a major (or not-so-major) delivery suite being closed on suspicion - or even confirmation - of safety concerns. Yet when it *may* involve a birth centre (even remotely), the service is closed. Midwifery services across the country are under intense scrutiny. Should anything go "wrong", services are closed, midwives are suspended, reviews are commenced and changes are made. I am not suggesting that this level of investigation should not occur, however I am concerned by the guilty until proven innocent approach taken by administrators.

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448