The twelve-month trial of the Yass Midwifery Outreach Service at Yass Hospital has been extended a further 12 months, drawing a mixed review from supporters of its full-time implementation.

SNSWLHD Tablelands General Manager, Brian Bonham, said the district is committed to ensuring a safe, evidence-based approach to maternity care for local women in the Yass Valley region.

“To continue meeting the demand and community expectations, the service has been extended for another 12 months. It will be jointly funded by SNSWLHD and the NSW Rural Doctors Network.”

“Extending the service will provide continuity of care to mothers and families in the Yass Valley region. It will also continue to support vulnerable families who may have increased health-risks, identify health-related risks in pregnancies and provide early detection of unwell babies,” said Bonham.

Jasmin Jones

Representing the New Yass Hospital with Maternity campaign, Councillor Jasmin Jones speaking as a private citizen, was pleased but slightly disenchanted by the announcement.

“It’s great that this position is continuing, but they should make it permanent in the budget.”

“I am thrilled that we’ve got confirmation the service will continue with a full time position. What is disappointing is that they haven’t come out and said point blank that it would be full time and guaranteed. What they’ve said instead is that they’re extending the trial. I think it’s time they came out and said ‘Not an extension, we’re just going to ensure that the community has confidence that there will always be a pre and postnatal midwife up there’,” said Jasmin.

According to Jasmin, the Yass Valley community, simply put, deserves better.

“They promised us a twelve month trial and that’s all our community should have to endure. This is a position that technically should be a team of six and including delivery. We’ve got the community and the need to support a team of six midwives with a consulting GP OB. It’s what’s available in other communities that have less births than us. For example Cowra, and other regional communities such as Forbes and Parkes,”

“We have approximately 200 women birthing from the Yass Valley each year and they have to go across the border or even further to Goulburn or Queanbeyan in order to do so. Our women deserve so much better, so do their babies and families. Every study shows that when a woman births in her own community, her health outcomes and mental health outcomes are so much better and we need to do everything we can to support women, particularly in this time during Covid. It’s so important to have local health services that don’t force our community into the bigger cities,” she said.

The SNSWLHD will provide $32,588 to fund the service for another 12 months, and the Rural Doctors Network will fund $78,128.

The news will undoubtedly provide an immediate reprieve for the expectant mothers of the Yass Valley, but long-term, there remains uncertainty regarding the service’s sustenance.

Max O’Driscoll