MOTHER'S BACKLASH: Local member of Maternity Consumer Network, Latisha Ryder.
MOTHER'S BACKLASH: Local member of Maternity Consumer Network, Latisha Ryder. Jessica Dorey

Women "bullied" into caesareans at rural hospital: claims

PREGNANT women in the Central Highlands have raised concerns about the treatment they received when opting to have a vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC) at Emerald Hospital.

Maternity Consumer Network local member Latisha Ryder said she was contacted by distraught pregnant women who felt their opportunity to have a VBAC was taken away from them.

Mrs Ryder said some women even felt they were bullied into agreeing to have a caesarean.

"This kind of behaviour by senior medical staff is appalling and is a gross abuse of a woman's right to choose how she births and be respected and supported in that decision," she said.

A public forum was held by Emerald Hospital last week to discuss the claims and concerns.

Central Queensland Hospital and Health Services Central Highlands general manager Gil Rankin told the forum while VBAC services were being reviewed, they were still an option at Emerald Hospital and the protocols around being able to have a VBAC remained unchanged.

"We have no intention of providing any less services than we currently provide," Ms Rankin said.

"What has happened is that we have started to look more closely at the way we provide services and we've been awarded the opportunity to do that because for the first time in quite a while we have a full complement of senior management.

"We want to ensure that the services we provide are focused on supporting our staff and our patients to access a safe and effective service."

When asked about women who had felt a backlash during the review process in December, Ms Rankin said "the women will be met withindividually to speak about their issues and concerns".

"If there are individuals who are unhappy with how we provided the service to them in the past then we definitely want to talk to them," Ms Rankin said.

"And we want to learn from that experience and to make sure we avoid that in the future."

Central Highlands medical services director Dr Julianne Graham said Emerald Hospital would work with the community to review maternity service.

"Emerald is considerable distance from specialist medical attention and where there is any risk involved we err on the side of caution to ensure the best possible outcomes," she said.

"It is our aim to provide as many services as possible close to home for Central Queenslanders, whilst maintaining the safety and well-being of mothers and babies."