Geraldton Universities Centre, Health Minister at odds on midwifery training

Geraldton Guardian
File image: Getty Images/Comstock Images
Camera IconFile image: Getty Images/Comstock Images Credit: Getty Images/Comstock Images

The Geraldton Universities Centre and the State Government are at loggerheads — over babies.

A GUC request to establish a midwifery course in Geraldton has been rejected by Health Minister Roger Cook.

Mr Cook said WA did not need more midwives.

However, the GUC argues there is a Statewide shortage.

The rejection from the Government comes a year after the GUC began liaising with the minister’s office and relevant health agencies to get a midwifery course up and running, following interest from local nursing students.

GUC board member Steve Douglas said they needed to completed the the practical component of midwifery in Metro-area hospitals because there were not enough local births. Students are also required to experience complicated births and extreme situations, which are unlikely in Geraldton as high-risk pregnant women are typically sent to Perth for care and delivery.

Mr Cook, however, said there were not enough births in Perth or WA to provide more clinical placements.

He said the WA Country Health Service already supported 69 midwives and there was no need for any more courses.

“While I am sympathetic to their desire to set up a new midwifery course, there is not a shortage of midwifery students or qualified midwives in WA, rather, there is a distribution problem.

“I acknowledge difficulties in attracting and retaining suitably experienced midwives in regional areas. The best way to address this is not by training more midwives but to do more to attract and retain existing midwives to regional areas.”

Mr Douglas disagreed, arguing upskilling regional students would address struggles to find and retain professionals.

“This year we had an indigenous woman (Zoe Harrington) graduate nursing and she’s taken up a position at Meekatharra,” Mr Douglas said. “Can you imagine someone from West Perth, Subiaco or Nedlands doing that?

“We need people who already understand regional living, as they’re more likely to stay in these communities.”

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