Hope of a low-risk maternity unit at Yass Hospital has been restored.
Federal member for Eden-Monaro Dr Mike Kelly said on Monday that he would pick up the baton from NSW Labor.
Labor candidate for Goulburn Dr Ursula Stephens had said in February that her party would commit $4.7 million to return maternity services to Yass Hospital. That promise was, of course, lost at the March election.
Dr Kelly said he would now work on getting a funding commitment from federal shadow health minister Catherine King.
"I am 100 per cent convinced of the case for a low-risk maternity unit in Yass," Dr Kelly said.
"It's so necessary now with the pace of population growth, including many families. We know that a huge demand for this exists."
Yass Valley had a population of 16,142 in 2016. That's expected to grow to 27,726 by 2036 according to Yass Valley Council's Settlement Strategy.
Dr Kelly said the previous work done by NSW Labor would help with his case.
"I'm getting all of the documentation from Walt [Secord] (NSW shadow health minister) ... [and] I'm hoping to have an answer in the next week," Dr Kelly said.
Local mothers including councillor Jasmin Jones, acting as a private citizen, Lindsay Hollingsworth and Bec Duncan - who previously lodged a petition with over 2,000 signatures for a maternity ward at Yass Hospital - were pleased with Dr Kelly's position.
"This kind of representation means our community will be heard," Cr Jones said.
"I think it's great to have someone that sees the value in upgrading the services the hospital offers and is listening to our needs," Mrs Hollingsworth said.
"Mike 'gets it'", Mrs Duncan said.
Hospitals are a major state government responsibility and Dr Kelly said the NSW government "should be sorting out" the maternity services in Yass.
However, Liberal member for Goulburn, Wendy Tuckerman, previously said she's not in favour of a low-risk maternity unit at Yass Hospital.
She said Labor's February announcement had "not been made in consultation with medical professionals and could possibly put lives at risk."
Mrs Tuckerman confirmed on Tuesday that this was still her position.
Federal Liberal candidate for Eden-Monaro, Fiona Kotvojs, said Mr Kelly "would be far better off dealing with federal issues."
"The funding for the build is the cheap cost, the real cost is the ongoing operation cost and that's a state cost.
"I recognise there are a number of people that would like to see a maternity ward reopen, but it is a state issue and I fully support Wendy's position in terms of not proceeding with it.
"My reason for that is exactly what Wendy said: if you're going to have a maternity ward you need an obstetrician, anaesthetist and other specialists, full-time. Even though it's a low-risk unit being put forward it can go wrong at the last minute with babies. It's not worth that risk.
"We politicians should not be playing in health, we should be doing what the information and data say."
Women living in the Yass Valley gave birth to 21 babies in 2017, according to the latest statistics by HealthStats NSW.
The Minister for Health, Brad Hazzard, and chair of the Yass Hospital Community Consultation Committee, Jill McGovern, also previously said that even a low-risk maternity unit would need immediate and ongoing access to intensive care, neonatal specialists and a theatre.
Calvary Private Hospital closes maternity ward
Calvary Bruce Private Hospital in Canberra is one of the closest birthing units for Yass Valley women and has struggled to secure staff.
Its maternity ward will close on April 28 due to failing "to attract sufficiently suitable candidates to the midwifery team," a statement from the hospital said.
Women will be transferred to Calvary John James Hospital for private and Calvary Bruce Public Hospital for public maternity services in the near future.