The Opposition has called on the State Government to address the chronic shortage of midwives in regional WA forcing families to travel hundreds of kilometres to give birth.
Opposition Leader Mia Davies said the latest initiative by the McGowan Labor Government – a recruitment campaign targeting retired midwives – was a stopgap solution at best.
“The failure to invest in this pipeline of workers has resulted in dozens of families forced to travel hundreds if not thousands of kilometres to deliver their babies safely,” Ms Davies said.
“In the short-term, we need to ensure anyone that wants to study midwifery is supported through their studies.
“The State Government needs to partner with tertiary institutions to retain their midwifery courses, and expand into areas that will encourage regional students to study and graduate closer to home.”
Ms Davies said local training pathways and incentive packages were needed to ensure WA had a sustainable supply of midwives into the future.
“There’s no excuse for a state as wealthy as Western Australia to fail to provide midwifery services where they are needed,” she said.
“It’s time the McGowan Labor Government started thinking outside the box to support the delivery of tertiary courses and training in regional WA, which they had the chance to do with Geraldton Universities Centre three years ago and failed to grasp the opportunity.”
Shadow Minister for Regional Health Martin Aldridge said the McGowan Labor Government needed to invest some of its $5.7 billion budget surplus into more permanent solutions to recruit and train West Australians.
“In 2019, I wrote to then Health Minister Roger Cook in urging support for a proposal by Geraldton Universities Centre to offer a local midwifery training program in the Mid-West,” Mr Aldridge said.
“The Health Minister’s response was simply that there were an adequate number of midwives entering the health system and not enough births in WA to justify additional clinical placements.
“Less than three years later, the number of FTE midwives in WA has decreased by 40 while births have increased dramatically – with 1,600 more births in 2021 than the previous year.
“Short-sighted decision making by the State Government has resulted in a critical shortage of midwives across regional WA and has left families in the Mid-West and Gascoyne regions particularly exposed to staffing shortages and service closures.”