Maternity services set to end at Bentley Hospital

BENTLEY Hospital could close its maternity service as early as next year after a report into the viability of metropolitan maternity services found the safety of caesarean deliveries at the hospital could not be guaranteed.

Last Monday, the State Government released a report recommending the closure of Bentley Hospital’s obstetric services.

Health Minister Kim Hames said there was no exact timeline for the closure.

“No timeline has been given as yet but the minister would expect next year,” a spokeswoman for Dr Hames said.

“The transfer of the maternity services from Bentley (to Fiona Stanley Hospital) is expected next year, which will mean the newborn facility at Bentley will close.

“However, an antenatal and postnatal midwife service will continue at the site.”

Hospital Consumer Advisory Council (CAC) chairwoman Marie Matthews questioned findings that the hospital was unsafe.

Mrs Matthews said the hospital offered essential care to women from migrant and refugee backgrounds.

“We already have an existing specialised hospital, it evolved that way on its own; to change anything would destabilise that,” she said.

Last year, more than 1000 babies were born at the hospital.

In 2012, Dr Hames said he would retain the hospital’s maternity services if that benchmark was met annually.

“We had been told the hospital would never be closed as long as there are 1000 babies born every year, and the need is growing here,” she said.

Victoria Park MLA Ben Wyatt said closing the hospital would contradict previous promises.

“When Minister Hames committed to retaining obstetric services if the annual number of births reached 1000, he never suggested that there were any safety concerns with the hospital; in fact, he committed to ‘invest whatever dollars are required to bring that up to a high quality obstetric service’,” he said.

Mrs Matthews called for greater consultation.

“We are not being told anything; we can only ask the questions and we are not getting any answers,” she said.