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Regional WA’s midwifery crisis laid bare

Almost half of all midwifery positions advertised at country West Australian hospitals last year went unfilled, leaving pregnant women and newborn babies vulnerable.

The McGowan Government was unable to attract a single midwife to major regional centres Esperance, Carnarvon, Narrogin and Kununurra over the last 12 months despite ten positions being advertised in those locations alone.

The Kimberley was one of the hardest hit regions with midwife positions at Derby, Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing hospitals also remaining vacant.

But the problem was not isolated to smaller towns with both Kalgoorlie (25 per cent success rate for positions advertised) and Albany (under 50 per cent) struggling to attract midwives. 

The figures came to light in State Parliament recently after questions asked by The Nationals.

Health spokesperson Martin Aldridge said the stats were alarming and hinted at a much bigger problem across WA’s country health sector.

“Hospitals across regional Western Australia are struggling to fill positions no matter the discipline,” Mr Aldridge said. 

“In the last 12 months the State has advertised for 55.6FTE positions with more than 25 positions not filled largely as a result of no suitable applicants applying or the position not being attractive enough.”

Mr Aldridge has written to Health Minister Roger Cook over the matter. He is demanding the Government outline its plan to reverse the trend and ensure regional West Australians have access to the same level of healthcare and services available in the city.

“The evidence continues to mount that the McGowan Government has dropped the ball on regional health,” Mr Aldridge said.

Leader Mia Davies called on the Government to invest in training and upskilling regional nurses to fill the midwifery gap.

“The Nationals are asking the McGowan Government to recognise – and properly compensate – nurses with a broader set of skills given their value at regional and remote sites to offer both nursing and midwifery services is a benefit to the community,” she said.

“There are currently no incentives to get midwives to these regional centres where they are desperately needed nor recognise their contribution to the health and wellbeing of expecting mums and babies.

“The McGowan Government needs to rethink its priorities. Every week there is another funding announcement for Metronet yet the Government is failing the basic health expectations of people living in our regional and remote areas.”