New questions in Parliament have revealed there were 62 occasions in which our hospitals were on maternity bypass in the last three months due to the lack of capacity in the system to support pregnant mothers.

Shadow Minister for Health Libby Mettam said the figures were no doubt causing significant angst for some pregnant mothers and needed to be urgently addressed by the WA Labor Government.

“It‘s extremely concerning to see that pregnant women are being diverted from our hospitals because there is not the capacity in the system to support them, something that should be a priority of any government.

“On average this represents about 20 bypasses a month across the health system and has included one mother with twins who was bypassed from two hospitals before finally giving birth.

“There are so many unknown and often high-risk variables associated with giving birth so for these women to then be unsure about where they are giving birth must be incredibly distressing.”

The significant number of bypasses follows an email sent to some pregnant women who were part of the Community Midwifery Program last week informing them that their care will be handed over to maternity ward midwives.

“This is obviously disappointing and upsetting for those mothers that had been part of the program and have now had that choice taken away from them,” Ms Mettam said.

“It will inevitably also put extra pressure on the hospitals themselves as more women are admitted.

“This, at a time, when we know there were 40 less midwives in the health system at the beginning of this financial year compared to last year and that King Edward Memorial Hospital is forecast to deliver 6200 babies this year, a significant increase from 5800 last year.

“It’s obvious that the staffing shortages are continuing to have an alarming impact on health services, particularly midwifery, and are yet another sign of a health system that is struggling to keep its head above water after four and a half years of under-resourcing.”