Gunnedah Hospital has defied the health district’s downward trend of births and recorded an increase in the number of babies born.

The Bureau of Health Information (BHI) healthcare quarterly report’s most recent reporting period (October to December 2023) showed Gunnedah Hospital recorded 17 babies born – up 30.8 percentage points on the same quarter last year.

The new figure is in contrast to an overall 4.3 per cent fall in births across the Hunter New England Local Health District (HNELHD).

What’s more, 97 per cent of those surveyed rated the overall care received at Gunnedah Hospital during labour and birth as ‘very good’ – compared to just 73 per cent district-wide.

Eighty-seven per cent at Gunnedah also said the overall hospital care after baby was born was ‘very good’ – this compared to only 61 per cent across the wider health district.

Among those able to vouch the quality care at Gunnedah Hospital was Ciara and Kerrod Smith.

The Gunnedah couple welcomed baby Tully into the world in December.

Even though the birth was performed at Tamworth, they said the level of care on transfer to Gunnedah maternity ward was second-to-none.

“The nurses were great,” Ciara said.

“We were treated like family,” Kerrod added.

Another new addition to the Gunnedah community is baby, Sonny Pryor.

Baby Sonny with parents Arlo and Shannon and sister Ava in Gunnedah.

Born in Gunnedah in February to proud parents Shannon and Arlo, the couple acknowledged the great service in Gunnedah both before and after the birth.

“It was good to have the baby here and not have to travel away, especially with other kids,” Shannon said.

Arlo said a friend from Quirindi recently had a baby in Gunnedah too and also had a great experience at the hospital.

In the Gunnedah Hospital emergency department, the 2152 attendances were recorded during the quarter, which was on par with last year.

Of those attendances, 83.5 per cent started their treatment on time – this was down 13.3 per cent on the 2022 figures.

Gunnedah received 262 arrivals to the emergency department by ambulance during October-December – this was 4.4 per cent higher and identical to the increased arrivals across the health district.

Only 52 per cent of patients at Gunnedah rated their emergency care as ‘very good and 48 per cent indicated that emergency department staff worked ‘very good’ together – this was virtually unchanged on the previous year.

But 86 per cent of patients said they were ‘always’ treated with respect and dignity while in the Gunnedah ED and 78 per cent of respondents believed ‘the right amount’ of information was given about condition or treatment.

Gunnedah Hospital recorded 254 ‘admitted patient episodes of care’ with an average length of stay being 5.8 days.

In contrast to the emergency department, 84 per cent of admitted patients surveyed rated their overall hospital care as ‘very good’ and 80 per cent said the health professionals together ‘very good’.

Hunter New England Health chief executive Tracey McCosker said the district’s emergency departments (EDs) performed well overall, as attendances remained steady at 114,767 in the final quarter of 2023, with 67.6 per cent of patients starting treatment on time.

She also sought patience from the public as the staff recruitment was ongoing.

“I acknowledge the strains on our staff at the moment. I want to reassure the community we are working very hard to bring more people to our regions with generous incentive offers and relocation payments,” Ms McCosker said.

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