A petition to build a new hospital with a maternity ward in Yass is now in circulation in response to a real risk of Yass Valley mothers having to give birth on the Barton Highway.
Councillor Jasmin Jones has taken the lead as a private citizen, herself a mother of five who had her third baby on the side of the highway.
She said it was unsafe to expect soon-to-be mothers to drive across the border. “If Yass is going to safely grow as a region, we need the basics and that means a new hospital with a maternity ward,” she said.
“I’ve written to the Premier, the Minister for Health, the Minister for Women, the health district and we’ve met with the local member and Labor’s Ursula Stephens, all in a bid to get the truth through to those holding the purse strings.”
The Yass Valley has about 400 maternity patients a year. With the population estimated to exceed 25,000 by the year 2036, Cr Jones said it would be untenable to expect all mothers in the region to travel to Canberra or Goulburn to deliver, or to expect the lone midwife in the Yass Valley to be able to support this demand.
While Yass District Hospital is set to undergo redevelopments in the near future, the plans do not include a maternity ward.
Yass Valley Council director of planning and environmental services Chris Berry said the council did not have plans to investigate a new hospital facility.
Mr Berry said he was not an expert in hospital and health planning, but added the Yass District Hospital was “a limited site because it’s surrounded by existing development and there’s limited landholding opportunities there. So whether a maternity wing or any other wing could be accommodated on the site, I don’t know.”
Cr Jones said she had asked the council to request an offer of available land for the proposed hospital.