Myrtleford Hospital still safe place for mothers and babies, says Alpine Health

Alpine Health chief executive Lyndon Seys

Alpine Health chief executive Lyndon Seys

Alpine Health has denied a decision to stop delivering babies in Myrtleford had anything to do with Victoria’s baby deaths scandal.

The hospital was one of four hospitals to this week have its maternity services downgraded by the Victorian government.

The move meant Alpine Health went from a level two, where only women with low-risk pregnancies could give birth, down to a level one service, meaning it could no longer deliver babies.

But it was purely a follow-on from a decision by the hospital in March this year to stop delivering babies.

A Victorian government spokeswoman confirmed its “maternal capability review” was conducted after Alpine Health made its decision.

A total of 13 births across the  Bright, Mount Beauty and Myrtleford hospitals during the 2014-15 financial year was not deemed enough to keep the services open and keep the doctors’ delivery skills fresh.

The government and Alpine Health chief executive Lyndon Seys denied a report in the Herald Sun on Friday which said Myrtleford’s maternity services were downgraded “after it was found they were undertaking work beyond their capabilities”.

A review into maternal services was conducted earlier this year after what the government described as “a cluster of tragically avoidable perinatal deaths at Djerriwarrh Health Services” in Bacchus Marsh.

“There is absolutely no link between our decision making and the tragic deaths that occurred there,” Mr Seys said.

There is absolutely no link between our decision making and the tragic deaths that occurred.

Alpine Health chief executive Lyndon Seys

“We’ve got a really safe service.”

He said the hospitals continued to offer limited maternity services to pregnant women, in conjunction with specialist birthing services at Wodonga and Wangaratta hospitals.

“Alpine Health did reduce its capacity to deliver birthing services and we did move our status down to level one,” he said.

“We did that work with a long planning process that spanned a number of years.”