‘Traumatic’ hospital move leaves women who lose babies sharing wards with newborns

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Midwives are reporting that the merger of the Inpatient Gynaecology Unit (IGU) with the Maternity Unit at one of Queensland’s biggest birthing hospitals, the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, has caused so much psychological distress some patients have discharged themselves early against medical advice.COMMENT: Maternity changes at RBWH are simply baffling and cruelQueensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union (QNMU) secretary Beth Mohle said “the collocation was unkind and incomprehensible”.Ms Mohle said the QNMU had written to Metro North Hospital and Health Service (MNHHS) officials five times outlining serious concerns around the merger. Union reps had also met with MNHHS officials twice on behalf of deeply concerned nurses and midwives who feared for the mental health of their patients. But concerns have fallen on deaf ears.The QNMU has revealed to The Courier-Mail that since the changes in August numerous women have discharged themselves “due to psychological trauma associated with being allocated beds near mothers with healthy newborns”.The union has taken the unusual decision to launch a petition against the Queensland Health decision. The merger was at first considered a temporary Covid response measure but this week was made permanent.The Maternity Consumer Network’s Alecia Staines said the merger decision was nothing more than emotional and mental abuse and was the biggest step back in maternity care for more than 50 years.“This is a hugely disappointing decision and traumatising for women. These are separate services where women have very unique needs. Bundling them together might be a cost cutting measure but it wasn’t done in consultation with women, nor is it best practice by any stretch,” she said.The RBWH, based at Herston in Brisbane, birthed 4730 babies last year.“More than 900 nurses, midwives and outraged Queenslanders have filed their concerns with the QNMU regarding Metro North’s decision to place new mothers and babies with those experiencing a loss or termination, fertility or reproductive issues and surgery that is deeply private and intimate,” Ms Mohle said.“This decision is incomprehensible, especially when there are currently uncommissioned beds available nearby that could be opened up for this purpose. We call on all Queenslanders, including the many women and families who have tragically experienced loss, to support the QNMU’s online petition calling for immediate change.”Queensland-based federal MP Julian Simmonds, who has publicly spoken of the heartbreak and stress he suffered with his wife Madeline due to pregnancy loss, slammed the decision.“This is a devastatingly retrograde step by the state government and health bureaucrats that will send a shiver up the spine of every couple who is or has struggled to start a family,” he said.“Those of us who have experienced pregnancy loss first hand will recall the feelings of failure and depression.“So imagine how those feelings will be magnified for couples dealing with a pregnancy loss while surrounded by newborns and families who have had more successful journeys. It is uncaring in the extreme.” The QNMU and midwife members at the RBWH have identified empty beds to set up the IGU elsewhere within Metro North in an environment where women and their families could receive care out of earshot of crying babies and families celebrating the arrival of healthy newborns.A Metro North spokeswoman said the decision was based on a plan to meet the requirements of Covid-19 quarantine wards.“The maternity and gynaecological wards are located on the same floor but as two discrete units. This decision was made following extensive consultation with staff, consumers and the Queensland Nursing and Midwifery Union (QNMU) and has no relationship to cost reduction or medical staff convenience,” she said. “Refurbishments are currently under way to create a discrete, secure and separate space for the gynaecological unit within maternity which meets the needs of both patient cohorts. All efforts are taken to support women experiencing a miscarriage to ensure they are accommodated in a supportive environment.”https://www.megaphone.org.au/petitions/end-women-s-trauma-at-the-rbwh The Kedron mum said the environment would make it very hard for a new mum with a healthy baby to show any kind of excitement and joy. “I’m relieved I just escaped any such scenario,” she said.Download the Courier Mail app



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