Dubbo mothers told to speak up before discharge from hospital

OFFICIAL OPENING: Former NSW premier Mike Baird inspects a birthing room at Dubbo Hospital during the January 2016 official opening of its clinical services building. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE
OFFICIAL OPENING: Former NSW premier Mike Baird inspects a birthing room at Dubbo Hospital during the January 2016 official opening of its clinical services building. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

The Western NSW Local Health District has advice for mothers with newborn babies who don’t want to be discharged from Dubbo Hospital before they feel ready to go home.

It was offered after the health district submitted a letter to the editor of the Daily Liberal, published on its website, Facebook page and in Thursday’s hard copy edition.

Signed by chief executive Scott McLachlan, the letter tells of the state government investing $240 million in the redevelopment of the hospital, including the construction of a new birthing and maternity unit. “The hospital redevelopment has allowed us to increase the number of maternity beds and future proof the unit to meet growing demand on our maternity services,” he said.

The chief executive included in the letter 2015 data released in March this year. “The Bureau of Health Information's Patient Perspectives Survey released this year found almost 90 per cent of women felt their length of stay at our maternity unit was just right; substantially higher than the NSW average,” he said.

“The clinical need of our patients is always the priority for our staff and where a mother or family need extra support, it will always be provided either in hospital or in the community - whichever is appropriate.”

Notice of the letter on Wednesday afternoon was followed by the health district’s refusal to answer some questions submitted by the Daily Liberal on Friday, October 6. But in a written statement, the health district later offered advice to pregnant women giving birth at Dubbo Hospital.

“If any patient, including new mothers, in hospital has concerns that their clinical issues require further attention, either in hospital or after they leave, then they should talk with their doctor or nursing staff before their discharge,” the statement read.

Mothers started posting about their length of stay at Dubbo’s public hospital on the Daily Liberal’s Facebook page after Dubbo Private Hospital announced it would shut down its postnatal care services from December 22.

Many of the women embraced the chance to go home as soon as possible, while others told of being pressured to leave, as early as four hours after giving birth.

The survey referred to by Mr McLachlan reports that 88 per cent of Dubbo Hospital maternity unit respondents considered their length of stay to be “about right”, compared with 80 per cent for NSW. The survey also found that 76 per cent of Dubbo Hospital respondents were “definitely” involved in decisions about discharge from hospital, compared with 65 per cent for NSW.