Keeping the Pressure On!

Since 2019, NASOG has been warning State and Federal Governments that without support to increase the use of private obstetrics, public obstetric units would start to collapse. Today we are reading a new story in the media almost daily about another hospital somewhere in the country (usually regional areas) that is closing its maternity unit. The crisis in Queensland has been particularly obvious and NASOG President, A/Prof Gino Pecoraro has not held back in the media about the many challenges facing maternity care. His opinion piece, shared below, highlights just some of the challenges facing young doctors considering obstetric roles in regional areas.

We call on all NASOG members to be vocal about the crisis within our profession and the risks it places on Australian Mothers and Babies.

If you know of a media or political opportunity, contact NASOG for assistance or comment.

The Sunday Mail (Qld): February 12, 2023

Opinion: Health Minister’s insulting comments inaccurate

The Queensland Health Minister’s disparaging comments about obstetricians do nothing to help the crisis facing the state, writes Gino Pecoraro.

The obstetrics crisis is far from resolved.

Fed-up obstetrics doctors in regional and rural areas are sharing their personal stories explaining why they are leaving maternity care altogether and fear young doctors are unlikely to be attracted to working in what they say are toxic environments.

Most are afraid to speak out for fear of reprisals. But the National Association of Specialist Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has seen an email circulating explaining their concerns. Alarmingly, many of these statements come from young doctors who have not chosen their specialty area yet, but they know they will not be pursuing obstetrics based on their experiences.

The issue is not simply one of remuneration, but how maternity units function and how obstetrics team members are perceived and treated within their hospitals and by the health department.

The women and families of Queensland deserve better, writes Associate Professor Gino Pecoraro.

Unfortunately, Queensland’s Health Minister has publicly made disparaging comments, saying obstetricians aren’t really needed in most cases and only contribute in 5-10 per cent of cases. Inaccurate comments like these contribute to obstetricians feeling undervalued and as though they are only employed to provide an “ambulance at the bottom of the cliff” service as well as being a scapegoat with an insurance policy should things go wrong in what has increasingly become a midwifery-centric model.

Unless something is urgently done to make training in obstetrics more palatable, we will face a national shortfall of obstetrics doctors at both GP and specialist levels in both public and private sectors.

This situation was accurately predicted by NASOG and its concerns expressed to federal and state health departments and politicians from both sides.

The recruitment and retention crisis looks every bit as dire as the indemnity crisis which saw many obstetricians give up practising in the highly litigious field.

That crisis needed federal legislation.

The current situation also needs federal intervention.

Something beyond political announcements needs to be done.

Our women and families deserve so much better!

Associate Professor Gino Pecoraro is the President NASOG and an obstetrician and gynaecologist.

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