Launceston’s consumer-run birth centre is set close its doors after a three-year struggle to find endorsed midwives.
The Launceston Birth Centre, in operation since 1983, provides an alternative choice for those who do not wish to give birth in a hospital – with options either within the centre’s two purpose-fit rooms, or at home.
A lack of paying clients, due to the inability to find endorsed midwives on a permanent basis, now means that space will have to close.
“It’s a big issue for mothers and families of the future,” Anna Holloway, a now-retired midwife who worked at the centre for 26 years, told The Examiner.
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Ms Holloway – who also sits as the midwife member of the centre’s committee – said changes to national midwife accreditation three years ago had brought on the situation, which had “been disappointment after disappointment”.
“We’ve been looking for an endorsed midwife and haven’t been able to find one,” Ms Holloway said. “We’ve had help [from other midwives across the state], but not enough to keep it running financially.”
If somebody heard the call and moved into the role it could help, she added, though they couldn’t “do it with temporary staff anymore, it’s too hard”.
“It’s not going to stop home births in Launceston – once we get a midwife. But it is going to impact the centre.”
“It’s devastating for that cohort of people. Because there is no choice other than the hospital – there is no private hospital.”
The centre is effectively run by its clients, who rent the building from the committee and invite the midwives into their space.
“It’s a home away from home birth centre,” Ms Hooloway said. “Like it was there home for that time. That’s how it’s been run for 35 years.”
The centre will create new Facebook-based group, to be known as the Launceston Birthing Community, as a space for like-minded people searching for alternative birthing options in Northern Tasmania.
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The LBC fundraising dinner, normally held at this time of year may instead become a “special celebration dinner” in April or May.
Instead of a silent fundraising auction, donations will be “gratefully” welcomed to help with the financial expenses of closing down the centre.
Asked at a media conference on Monday whether there was anything the state government could to do assist the centre, Premier Will Hodgman said Tasmania had a strong public and private system working together and he was sure health officials “will do whatever” to ensure that is the case.
“We’ll certainly sure want to engage closely with the private sector. It’s a decision made by them,” Mr Hodgman said.
“Importantly, the Tasmanian Health Service can continue to provide birthing services for people in Northern Tasmania.”
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