Health Minister called on to visit Terang hospital over fears for maternal services

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There are calls for the state’s Health Minister to visit Terang's hospital as the town fights to keep its maternity services.

Corangamite Shire councillor Chris O’Connor labelled Jill Hennessy’s handling of speculation around the hospital as “shocking” and urged the minister to see the facility for herself. 

The outgoing councillor said Ms Hennessy’s comments in Saturday’s The Standard that “discussions around the capability of Terang and Mortlake Health Service (TMHS) are continuing” cast doubt on the hospital’s ability to deliver babies.

“What a terrible statement for the confidence of young mothers in our district…  for her to make that statement was absolutely shocking,” Cr O’Connor said.

“What a disappointing performance from the state’s leading health officer to undermine a truly great health service that has provided near faultless service to its community for decades. Rather than refute the linkage of the Terang Mortlake Health Service with the troubled Djerriwarrh Health Service (in Bacchus Marsh), the minister failed miserably.”

Cr O’Connor said the minister’s comments could be designed to encourage expectant mothers to seek maternal services elsewhere.

“My understanding is that any discussions are about numbers and not the quality of the service. By coincidence, there were three babies born last week in the Terang hospital, assisted by professional staff and our two skilled doctors,” he said.

At their meeting on Tuesday night, Corangamite Shire councillors voted unanimously to write to Ms Hennessy inviting her to visit the Terang hospital and other health services in the shire.

Chris O'Connor.

Chris O'Connor.

“We only need to talk to the mothers that have used the TMHS for births to realise how truly lucky we are to have such a service in our own local community. Compared to the experiences of larger regional hospitals where mothers are being pressured to vacate their rooms after 24 to 48 hours... the TMHS is like a home away from home,” Cr O’Connor said.

“With less numbers and less pressure to push mothers out before they are ready, the service provides time and support to mums at their most vulnerable time. TMHS is currently renovating rooms and continually striving to improve the maternal health and support services and the experience of new mothers. 

“I believe Minister Hennessey has passed through the town of Terang on occasions, but maybe a passing visit to our hospital would be appropriate.”

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