Groups slam private safety claims

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Private hospitals and specialists have united to slam as "spurious and totally without any basis in fact" claims by a Queensland Health bureaucrat mothers choosing to give birth in private hospitals are at greater risk than those who choose the public system.

The comments by Queensland Health’s maternity head Rebecca Kimble were slammed by the president of the National Association of Specialist Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (NASOG), Dr Stephen Lane, and the Australian Private Hospitals Association.

According to Dr Lane, even the deputy director-general of Queensland Health cautioned against Dr Kimble's comments. “Dr John Wakefield warned against ‘anybody saying one is safer than the other (public of private) because we don’t have the evidence of that,” said Dr Lane

“Also, to suggest that mothers should emulate a princess who lives in a palace and left the hospital six hours after giving birth beggars belief.

“Not everyone has a household of staff to go home to as was the case with the princess but this fact seems to have escaped Dr Kimble.

“Mothers should stay in hospitals as long as is necessary for their health and safety and the private system provides this environment.

“To suggest otherwise is dangerous and irresponsible. For a health professional her comments are very disappointing and quite inappropriate.”

Dr Lane said evidence, which actually suggests private obstetrician-led care is safer than that provided in the public system, clearly refuted Dr Kimble’s "misinformed" comments.

“I would have expected more from a health professional and she has used, and indeed abused, her official position to put forward a view that is offensive to all doctors, nurses, midwives, anaesthetists and private hospital staff.

“The care provided by obstetricians and gynaecologists in private hospitals is second to none.” 

Australian Private Hospitals Association CEOMichael Roff said mothers giving birth in the private hospital sector had excellent perinatal and maternal outcomes.

“To suggest otherwise is quite simply wrong and these statements are disturbing for their factual inaccuracies and their potential to cause confusion,” said Mr Roff. “Private hospitals play a crucial role in the provision of health services throughout Australia and are a critical element of the health care system across a range of health care, including maternity services. We should value that, not undermine it.”