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Shortage of obstetricians in WA baby boom

WA is suffering from a shortage of midwives and GP-trained obstetricians, says AMA.

A baby boom in Western Australia has highlighted a shortage of doctors trained to deliver them, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) has said.

WA has a surging population with 32,494 babies born last year but the state has the worst ratio of obstetricians and gynaecologists per head of population with only 122 for 2.36 million.

The AMA's WA President David Mountain said that it was disappointing that WA did not have the resources to deal with the baby boom when authorities knew it was coming.

He said almost all centres had experienced 10 to 15 per cent increases in babies being delivered and many places were working at capacity or over-capacity.

"It is disappointing, Western Australia's baby boom has been bigger than almost every other boom and it's difficult to train enough numbers in Western Australia," Dr Mountain said.

"We should be putting in place as many resources as possible so people can deliver safely."

Mountain said more specialists, midwives and GP-trained obstetricians were needed.

He said many GPs had obstetric skills and they could be retrained or brought back into the workforce.

But he said an issue for doctors was indemnity coverage which was very expensive.

"If we want to increase the GP workforce involved in delivering babies they have to be covered by the state government for their indemnity coverage," he said.


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