Mothers campaigning to prevent Milton Hospital maternity and administrative cuts intend to again gatecrash the Federal election campaign in Gilmore.
A placard protest outside the hospital planned for Monday afternoon on the coming long weekend would be their third street gathering in a month.
Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) insists any suggestion it is downgrading the hospital is “categorically incorrect” but adds “a final decision on the model of care for the future” of birthing services has not been made.
However ISLHD chief executive Margot Mains has further inflamed Dr Brett Thomson, who highlighted the issue by recently withdrawing his services from the hospital.
Ms Mains has alleged there have been “three significant adverse outcomes” at the maternity unit.
“We have been working closely with a group of local midwives, nurses and GP obstetricians to look at all the options available for the provision of future services that are safe and appropriate for the community and the hospital,” Ms Mains said.
“I am unapologetic in my stance on the issue of safety; the birthing service at Milton has unfortunately seen three significant adverse outcomes in recent years and we must ensure that our services are safe.”
Infuriated, Dr Thomson said Ms Mains was “really breathtakingly thin on substance”.
“If she is going to make claims like that, let's hear what those outcomes were and tease out the details,” he challenged.
“If she is going to make claims like that, let's hear what those outcomes were ...”- Dr Brett Thomson
“If they want the gloves off, let’s also have an accurate statement of adverse outcomes in Nowra and Wollongong, because they happen. I invite anyone who has experienced that to speak up.”
“They thought they would try to intimidate us but if they want to air dirty laundry, then we’re prepared to discuss it.”
Young mothers who praise Milton facilities say they would not have made it to Shoalhaven hospital in time when their labour started.
Video: Ulladulla-based Wayne Flint, assistant secretary of the Australian Paramedics Association (APA) NSW branch backs them.
“We know emergencies are going to occur and these patients need to be in a medical facility, not in the back of an ambulance when they’re having an emergency childbirth and they need a doctor present to take care of the situation,” Mr Flint said.
The Facebook campaign Save Maternity Facilities at Milton Hospital is collecting signatures on a petition left in local shops and gained another 149 at a weekend Rotary swap meet at Milton, on their way to a goal of enlisting 4000 locals.
Member for Gilmore Ann Sudmalis has sprayed positive Coalition health spending numbers at Labor candidate Fiona Phillips, a retort to the Ulladulla harbourfront rally on May 27, where Ms Phillips gave the mothers their ticket to the Federal stage.
The previous week when they gathered for the first time outside the hospital to support Dr Thomson, Ms Phillips invited them to her rally, also addressed by Labor’s Rural and Regional Health spokesman Stephen Jones.
The pair warned of possible privatisation of Medicare and $57 billion in Federal Coalition cuts to health funding, which would ultimately affect Milton Hospital, calling it “mad economics”.
Member for Gilmore, Ann Sudmalis said “this is another desperate attempt by Labor to link things that are not connected, and to do it through a lie”.
“Dr Thomson’s departure from Milton Hospital is the result of a dispute with management of the [State] area health service about the hospital’s classification, which has been ongoing for a few years,” Mrs Sudmalis said.
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