Save Flinders Maternity! - Keep Flinders Private Hospital Obstetrics and Maternity Service

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Save Flinders Maternity! Keep Flinders Private Hospital Obstetrics and Maternity Services open

Earlier this month Flinders Private Hospital released a statement that it regrettably was planning on ceasing its Obstetrics and Maternity Services later this year after July 31st 2019. It stated that its partner hospital Ashford Hospital which is also in the ACHA group would be able to accommodate new patients as well as those parents already booked to deliver at Flinders Private Hospital after July 31st 2019 (Now extended to September 16th). This was a decision that they made without any consultation with the current obstetricians working there or the team of Obstetricians that were planning on starting there in April this year. Without consultation with all those it would affect, the Obstetricians, midwives, Paediatricians, support staff or the community!  The doctors, the midwives and staff who have worked there for decades were not informed about this decision until the announcement!


Flinders Private Hospital stated that it had made this decision due to a reduction in the number of deliveries at the hospital and that they were no longer able to reach an outcome that ensured the ongoing viability “despite all efforts”. They have not however stated that they had increasing numbers being booked this year due to their current obstetricians being booked up, the addition of Dr Linda McKendrick to the Flinders team, who was also significantly booked and at least four more Obstetricians starting there in the next couple of months, some of whom will still be practicing there but unable to deliver at Flinders Private itself. The numbers of deliveries at Flinders Private was set to significantly increase over the next year and yet they decided that it would take too long.  We would like them to give this opportunity time to revitalise Flinders Private Hospital prior to deciding to remove these vital services.


The Flinders Private Hospital Maternity unit is a fantastic place to deliver a baby; I’ve had two fantastic boys delivered at Flinders, naturally and fully supported with Dr.Elinor Atkinson, the midwife team and the supportive staff there. The care throughout my pregnancy, during a few scares we had, in labour and afterwards, was holistic and absolutely exemplary. Their team provide excellent care and have done for decades, with great outcomes for mothers, babies and families in their care.

 

Flinders Private Hospital is the only private hospital available and easily accessible to women in the southern suburbs of Adelaide, and when a woman is in labour distance to care is of great importance. As a woman who labours very quickly, Ashford Hospital would not be an option for me and my family, and many of the families I have spoken to have similar concerns. For women who live further south it would mean more than an hour driving during labour, which is not acceptable for most women.  There are situations when a woman might have previously been able to be assessed and allowed to go home to family, but if the distance is too great, this may mean the woman is kept in hospital longer than would otherwise be necessary.  If they are sent home in early labour or in other situations, their round trip is more excessive and is at increased cost to the woman  and their family.  This increased distance is also felt by the family under normal circumstances and in the early period after giving birth.  Distance is important when considering the ability for families to visit easily, and for new mothers having access to their loved ones for support and to cherish this time is vital.  This is particularly important when  you have only a small amount of support, such as in small families,  you need the support you have to be close.


Additionally Flinders Private Hospital is the only private obstetric hospital in South Australia co-located with a tertiary public hospital, Flinders Medical Centre. This gives the women delivered here access to high level ICU facilities for mother and baby at the same facility, as well as exceptional Paediatricians working in both locations, should the unlikely need for these services ever be necessary; and the peace of mind that comes with this arrangement.   I would certainly prefer this to retrieval to a separate hospital and possible separation from my newborn and family.  I know this was one of the reasons that I chose Flinders Private Hospital as the place to deliver my babies.

 

The loss of the Flinders Private Hospital Maternity unit will push women birthing there to other hospitals, many of whom will probably birth in Flinders Medical Centre rather than further north.  This has the potential to place significantly pressure on already stressed public hospital beds and may negatively impact all women with obstetric and gynecological problems in the southern suburbs of Adelaide.  Additionally this could cause large financial cost increases to the SA health network. 

 
Choice is important, particularly at such a precious and delicate time for a woman and for a family! In maternity care lack of choice and control around care can contribute to poorer outcomes for Mum, baby, the family and the community as a whole. Women in the south of Adelaide should not be denied the choice to deliver at the Flinders Private Hospital, especially when the reasons for closing and options for keeping the service open clearly have not been fully explored. As a GP in the southern suburbs and as a Mum and a woman I believe that it is of vital importance that we fight to keep this valuable service open for the women and families of the south! I believe the ACHA group and Flinders Private Hospital should meet with the Obstetricians, Midwives, Paediatricians, GPs and community to discuss how we can move forward to ensure the ongoing exemplary care of pregnant women wanting to birth at Flinders Private Hospital. I believe that with the new obstetricians joining the Flinders team the births at Flinders would increase substantially and women in the south could continue to benefit from the fantastic obstetric care available and the benefits of being given the choice in how and where they want that care.

 

We the undersigned hereby would like to show our support and that we are against the closure of the Flinders Private Hospital Obstetric and Maternity Unit, particularly without the consultation of the current and starting obstetrician teams, paediatric teams, the referring doctors and the community. We believe that it is a necessary, valuable and worthy asset to our community and therefore should be fought for.  We ask the Board and administrators of Adelaide Community Healthcare Alliance Incorporated (ACHA) and Flinders Private Hospital to reconsider their proposed closure of the Obstetric and Maternity unit.  We ask them to meet with the invested parties, the Obstetricians, the Midwives, the Paediatricians, the community GPs and community members to discuss what can be done to save the maternity unit and to show that they are willing to commit to and invest in women’s health in their hospital.  We also ask our elected members to help to advocate for the women in their electorates who need access to this valuable service and all the benefits that it provides.


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