Australian Medical Association Queensland Dr Dilip Dhupelia.
Australian Medical Association Queensland Dr Dilip Dhupelia.

Childbirth: Shock GP response to public-private claims

BABIES are 1.5 times more likely to die in a public hospital than private hospital, according to extraordinary figures released by Queensland's private obstetricians.

The startling statistic is being used by the doctors in response to claims from Queensland Health maternity chief Dr Rebecca Kimble that the private sector is "overrated" and mothers are at greater risk due to longer stays.

"A flood of doctors has contacted me and there is anger in the private sector over these words. They are very damning and have no scientific evidence to back them," private obstetrician Dr Gino Pecoraro said.

"It sounds suspiciously to me like the doctor may be spouting a PR campaign for the public hospital," he said.

The new president of the Australian Medical Association Queensland Dr Dilip Dhupelia has also weighed into the debate saying Queensland women need both the private and public sectors working to meet their demands.

"Women who can afford access to private care with the advantages of private hospital accommodation and one-on-one access to specialist obstetrician care should feel confident and safe to do so. This also opens capacity in the public system for those women who do not have these options," Dr Dhupelia said.

Dr Pecoraro highlights the study "Perinatal mortality disparities between public care and private obstetrician-led care: a propensity score analysis.

"This is very valid research and shows a higher death rate in the public system even when high risk births are taken into consideration," he said.

The study which included 131,436 births - 52.5 per cent from public and 47.5 per cent private - found that after accounting for fertility treatments and multiple-birth pregnancies, babies born in the public sector were approximately 1.5 times more likely to die than babies born in the private sector.

This difference was reduced to 1.3 after taking into account factors that could skew the data such as major congenital anomalies, birth method, and duration of pregnancy.

In an interview with News Queensland Dr Kimble, chairwoman of the Statewide Maternity and Neonatal Clinical Network, slammed long stays for new mothers as a recipe for blood clots.

Dr Johanna Holt a paediatrician in the maternity wing of The Wesley Hospital in Brisbane said that in 20 years she has never seen a woman, without a pre-existing condition, develop a clot.