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State and federal Labor asleep at the wheel over closure of Epworth Geelong Maternity

Joint media release with Richard Riordan MP, Member for Polwarth

The state and federal Labor governments must pull out all stops to reverse the closure of Epworth Geelong Maternity, Senator for Victoria Sarah Henderson and Member for Polwarth Richard Riordan said today.

With the closure of Epworth Geelong’s maternity ward slated for 1 March 2023, Senator Henderson and Mr Riordan said local state and federal Labor MPs have been asleep at the wheel on this critical health issue which particularly impacts local women.

“The closure of Epworth Geelong Maternity, where close to 600 babies are born each year, would be devastating for our community. Not only will this push St John of God hospital and University Hospital Geelong to breaking point, it will force some women to travel to Melbourne to give birth which is not only untenable but unsafe,” Senator Henderson said.

“I condemn Corangamite MP Libby Coker and Corio MP Richard Marles who have shown no interest in standing up for this critical health service, and for the thousands of local women and families impacted by this distressing decision. I call on the Albanese Government to take its head out of the sand and guarantee the future of obstetric services at Epworth Geelong.”

“The former Coalition government worked extremely hard with Epworth HealthCare to build a state-of-the-art hospital in Waurn Ponds including providing substantial financial support for vital MRI services. Geelong Maternity Group, which is based at Epworth Geelong, comprises highly credentialed obstetric specialists and has a first-class reputation. I am also concerned that this closure, driven by management in Melbourne, is all about putting profit before the health needs of our community and that is unforgivable. It is disgraceful and cruel that Epworth Geelong would close its maternity ward midway through the pregnancy of so many expectant mothers,” Senator Henderson said.

Mr Riordan is similarly calling on the state Labor government to act as a matter of urgency.

“Like many other hospitals, we recognise that Epworth Geelong is dealing with workforce shortages, particularly midwives and paediatricians. Already, I am advised that key challenges with nursing rosters at Epworth Geelong have been resolved and I commend local midwives for stepping up to the plate. However, what is the state Labor government doing to safeguard the future of maternity services at Epworth?,” Mr Riordan said.

It is not good enough for Premier Andrews and local state MPs to wipe their hands of this responsibility. The closure of Epworth Geelong Maternity would have a direct impact on public health services across our region and on Surf Coast residents who I represent.”

“Victoria’s health system relies on both private and public hospitals. That is why the state Liberals at the recent election proposed a comprehensive nursing graduate training program to address workforce challenges in both the public and private health sector. State Labor’s failure to support maternity services across our region is yet another example of its gross mismanagement of Victorian hospitals,” Mr Riordan concluded.

Working closely with the community campaign to save Epworth Geelong Maternity, Senator Henderson and Mr Riordan have requested an urgent meeting with the board and management of Epworth HealthCare.

5 January 2023

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