Urgent inquiry must be expanded to investigate re-opening of Waikerie birthing unit

The Opposition is calling on Peter Malinauskas to guarantee a review into the re-opening of the Waikerie birthing unit - following the start of an external inquiry into the closure of the same service at Whyalla, robbing expecting mothers of their right to give birth close to home.

Today, West Australian midwife Peta Fisher started her review into how birthing services can be re-established in Whyalla.

The Malinauskas Labor Government knew the crucial health service was at risk but chose not to act, forcing pregnant women to travel outside of their own district during the cost of living crisis.

Shadow Minister for Regional Health Services, Penny Pratt, said Peter Malinauskas must expand the review to incorporate the examination of the closed Waikerie birthing unit.

“We are calling on Peter Malinauskas to expand the scope of the review at Whyalla to include investigation into the possible re-opening of the Waikerie birthing unit,” Ms Pratt said.

“If it’s good enough for Whyalla, why isn’t it good enough for the people of the Riverland?

“Peter Malinauskas needs to wake up and realise there is an essential health system that exists outside of Adelaide and regional South Australians count on it to be up and running when they’re sick or ready to bring a child into this world.

“Peter Malinauskas’ city-centric bias is leaving our regional health services in a heap and our Riverland communities in the lurch.

“We know there are workforce shortages in our regions, but an obvious tool to rectify that would have been incentives for midwives, nurses and doctors. Sadly, Peter Malinauskas chose to ignore those calls and regional communities are paying the price.”

Shadow Minister for Regional South Australia, Nicola Centofanti, said reliable healthcare services close to home are crucial for rural communities.

“Having a baby is a nerve-wracking and anxious experience in some cases, and in those instances, you want to know you can go to your local hospital, be around loved ones and familiar faces to enjoy the lifechanging experience,” Dr Centofanti said.

“Waikerie birthing unit has played such a crucial role over the years and it’s a relieving feeling to know that world-class care from Riverland midwives is right on your doorstep.

“We want future mothers to know that feeling and that’s why we want an urgent inquiry to examine the re-opening of the Waikerie birthing unit. We need to know if this birthing service is a viable option and, if so, when will this crucial assistance be back up and running?”

Member for Chaffey, Tim Whetstone, said two of his children were born in the Riverland and all three in the country.

“We need an urgent inquiry to examine the re-opening of the Waikerie birthing unit,” Mr Whetstone said.

“I’ve been fortunate to experience my children being born in a local hospital which gives a sense of comfort. You’re in the hands of a family doctor and the nursing staff and midwives are locals themselves.

“You watch your children grow up and bump into these healthcare workers around town and it’s special to know they were part of the birth.”

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