Mur'bah hospital protest on Wednesday
SATURDAY UPDATE 11.10am: A PROTEST is being organised against the closure of the Murwillumbah Hospital birthing unit.
It will be staged on Wednesday at 10am at the front of the facility.
FRIDAY UPDATE 8am: After initially advising that the Murwillumbah Hospital birthing unit would re-open its doors as soon as a specialist doctor could be recruited, in a written statement the local health department has now said that a review of the service would take place before more recruitment efforts were undertaken.
No time or duration for this review has been given by the Northern NSW Local Health District.
Meanwhile Lismore State MP Thomas George has rejected claims by Richmond Federal MP Justine Elliot that the closure of the unit was the state government's fault.
Mr George said it was as a result of the challenges of attracting staff to regional towns and he hoped a new doctor was recruited soon.
WEDNESDAY UPDATE 4.15pm: Local Federal MP Justine Elliot has blamed National Party MPs Thomas George and Geoff Provest for the closure of Murwillumbah Hospital's birthing unit.
"I have been contacted by many concerned mothers today who have been told they can't access the birthing centre at Murwillumbah as it will be closed from this Friday," Mrs Elliot said.
"This is a disgraceful act. Only two months after the NSW state election and the National Party have moved to shut this vital local service.
"Our community will not tolerate the downgrading of the hospital's maternity unit. This unacceptable proposal will put at risk the lives of babies and mothers.
"The Liberal National's Government decision to downgrade Murwillumbah hospital is an insult to locals. They are cutting funding for services on the North Coast to prop up problems in Sydney.
"I'm worried that if this downgrading process continues it will reach the point where the hospital is closed. The Murwillumbah community will not accept any cutbacks and will continue to fight them.
"At the federal level we have the Abbott Government slashing billions from hospital services and locally we have the National Party cruelly acting to shut this important service."
ORIGINAL STORY: EXPECTANT mums will not be able to give birth at Murwillumbah District Hospital in the short term at least, but instead will be required to go to Tweed Hospital.
Bernadette Loughnane executive director of the Tweed Byron Health Service Group, said the service had been cut because the hospital had failed to recruit a doctor who specialised in the resuscitation of babies.
A specialised General Practitioner/Visiting Medical Officer Neonatal Roster must attend every birth and since December 2014 the health District had unsuccessfully tried to recruit a doctor for the specialised role.
Ms Loughnane said the service will be re-instated as soon as a doctor is recruited.
It's a move that has local women up in arms and is also likely to place increased stress on Tweed Hospital's maternity unit.
Friends of Tweed Valley Birthing Services have already launched a petition to reverse the decision.
"There has been no community consultation around this suspension of services and mothers who are due to give birth any day are now being told that they cannot have their baby where they choose," a spokeswoman said in a statement posted on the services social media site today.
"Birth stats at Murwillumbah indicate that there has not been a need to resuscitate any babies for some time and this is due to the strict guidelines the Midwifery team have in selecting women who are able to birth there.
"The lack of transparency and consultation is frustrating and I feel like we need to do something about this.
"Please sign this petition so hopefully we can encourage the government to support regional birth units and provide the funding needed to ensure that our wonderful service is not closed.