Carnarvon Health Campus remains in the spotlight over healthcare struggles and staffing shortages, with an ongoing maternity shutdown and now mothers left unable to get their children vaccinated. After the town’s maternity services were halted 16 months ago due to an absence of midwives and obstetricians, Carnarvon hospital was unable to deliver childhood immunisations when their sole community health nurse went on emergency leave. Carnarvon resident and mother of three Casey Petera said the absence meant she was unable to get the required immunisations for her son Koa and was informed the nurse had an indefinite return date. Koa waited three weeks to receive his 4.5-month-old shots, and will now receive his six-month immunisations late too, as there must be eight weeks in between jabs. “I was so worried for those three weeks, because my eldest is in school and our middle child is at day care so they’re bringing home all sorts of germs — I didn’t know what was going to happen if they gave anything to Koa,” Ms Petera said. Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson acknowledged the skill shortage in Parliament last month, saying ”discussions have been held with the local medical practice and the Aboriginal Medical Service to upskill and support them to provide immunisations in primary care.” A temporary solution to the problem came in the form of an allocation of time from the on-site public health nurse to support the provision of immunisations. Carnarvon Hospital is the major health facility for a 500km region, and currently has three full-time employment positions advertised for community health nurse roles. Ms Sanderson said the issue was not funding based, but a problem rooted in recruitment. “We are undertaking a structural review of the Carnarvon community health services so that we can identify where we can potentially modify the current model and improve our ability to recruit those positions,” she said. A WA Country Health Service spokesperson assured locals help would be found. “Our success in this space includes the appointment of more medical interns and intern pharmacists than ever before, as well as a record number of newly qualified nurses and midwives,” they said. Mrs Petera and her husband Cody moved from Newman to Carnarvon when she fell pregnant with Koa, to be closer to family and be near a hospital with birthing services, which closed months after their arrival. Mrs Petera was one of the 103 mothers who have been forced to travel to Perth or Geraldton for labour, due to the closure of birthing services. “In Carnarvon, we are losing our basic health care rights, we don’t have doctors, nurses, dental. We can’t get the help that we need,” she said. North West Central MLA Merome Beard said “key pieces of this puzzle have been removed over the last six years and this has left the health picture in North West Central with some gaping and concerning holes.” Locals are hopeful the issues will be tackled at the upcoming health summit on August 7 addressing serious workforce shortages in the industry, especially in the regions.