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Hospital deal improves access to maternity care

Wednesday, 13 September 2023

Barwon Health and St John of God Geelong Hospital have announced a new formal agreement designed to enhance the community’s access to maternity care, including the care of newborn babies.

Barwon Health has been engaged to provide paediatric services for St John of God Geelong Hospital’s maternity service. This new agreement means increased paediatric support with more paediatricians employed by Barwon Health, who will be rostered to work at Barwon Health and St John of God Geelong Hospital.

The agreement also provides for a new neonatal nurse practitioner program to support newborn care at both hospitals. The three new neonatal nurse practitioners have advanced skills in neonatal care which will enhance the care provided to newborns across both hospitals.

In Victoria, neonatal nurse practitioners have been part of the maternity and newborn service system in metropolitan tertiary hospitals for more than a decade and we are pleased to be able to expand this model to Geelong.

St John of God Geelong Hospital CEO Stephen Roberts said the partnership was an innovative solution that ensured the region would continue to have access and choice to high-quality maternity services close to home, using a model that had been successful elsewhere.

"It’s a great example of how the public and private system can work together for the benefit of our community," he said.

Barwon Health Women’s and Children’s Services clinical director Associate Professor Dave Fuller said the agreement would attract more neonatal paediatricians to work in the region.

"With ongoing workforce challenges in the health sector across Australia and particularly in rural and regional areas, it is important we collaborate across both hospitals in Geelong to ensure the highest standard of paediatric care," he said.

"The development of the neonatal nurse practitioner model in Geelong strengthens the care at both hospitals and is an important pathway for highly skilled nurses to fully utilise their skills."

This agreement will provide increased dedicated paediatric support at each hospital benefiting families in Geelong and the broader Barwon South West region by expanding and securing our paediatric workforce for the future, said Barwon Health chief executive Frances Diver.

"As the regional public health service, Barwon Health is committed to partnering with St John of God Geelong Hospital to enhance services for our community," Ms Diver said.

"This new agreement is a welcome addition to the range of initiatives and partnerships we have with St John of God Geelong Hospital."