Maternity and newborn services in the west are “currently inadequate” to meet rapidly growing demand, according to Mercy Health.
In a submission to the state government’s inquiry into perinatal services, Mercy Health said Werribee Mercy Hospital was “at maximum physical capacity” for the provision of maternity and newborn services.
The submission said the hospital would need 48 multi-day maternity beds by 2026, double the current number, to cope with demand.
An additional 24 special care nursery cots would also be needed by 2026.
The number of births at Werribee Mercy Hospital had increased 20 per cent each year between 2012-13 and 2016-17, according to the submission.
The hospital is currently providing care for 3800 mothers a year.
Mercy Health health services chief executive Linda Mellors said Wyndham’s fast-growing population had resulted in greater demand for maternity services at Werribee Mercy Hospital and other services in the region.
She said an eight-bed Critical Care Unit being built at Werribee Mercy, as part of an $85 million expansion, would help to provide additional care for maternity patients when it opened next year.
“Mercy Health continues to work with the Department of Health and Human Services regarding future service needs for the region,” Adjunct Professor Mellors said. “We expect to increase our maternity and newborn services as our facilities are expanded in the future.”
She said that it was not anticipated that the opening of St Vincent’s Private Hospital next year would change the level of demand Werribee Mercy faced for maternity services, although the hospitals would work together to provide a range of care options for families in Wyndham.
The state government’s inquiry into perinatal services is currently holding hearings. A report of findings is expected to be released by March 31 next year.
The state government was contacted for comment.