ACT News


Midwife centre for Calvary gets nod

The opening of a new midwife-led birth centre at Calvary Hospital will go ahead despite a government promise to the Greens to study the viability of a non-hospital birth centre.

During the election campaign, Labor promised to fund the construction of two new birth suites at Calvary to allow the delivery of a maternity service similar to the one offered by the birth centre at the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children.

About 200 north Canberra women would be able to use the midwifery system to have their babies each year.

But the Greens proposed a $300,000 study into the viability of building a ''stand-alone'' birth centre away from an acute hospital setting.

Advocates of stand-alone birth centres argue that they reduce the risk of women undergoing caesarian section deliveries or other medical interventions. But the government has previously accepted advice that birth centres need to be co-located with acute hospitals so that emergency help is available quickly.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said she had agreed to a Greens request for the study but the new Calvary birth centre would proceed anyway.

''I said our [proposal] has to go ahead because of the capacity issues that we are seeing, so the sooner we can get $850,000 out the door to actually fit out those rooms at Calvary, which will mean they can really prepare to provide what we've funded in a much better environment, the better,'' she said.

The birth centre study would be rolled into other research into the future birthing needs of northside women. Ms Gallagher said she expected strong opposition from many members of the local medical community to any proposed stand-alone birth centre.

''I'm sure that many people will come forward during that study to say, yes it's needed and wanted, but there will be some very strongly opposing views to be put forward,'' she said.