A baby gestures minutes after he was born inside the pediatric unit at hospital Escuela in Tegucigalpa October 21, 2011. According to Honduras' health authorities, about 220,000 babies are born in Honduras each year and the cost of having a baby delivered at the public hospital is $10. The world's population will reach seven billion on October 31, according to projections by the United Nations. Picture taken October 21, 2011. Reuters/Edgard Garrido

A new report released by the Australian government reveals that a number of hospitals in Victoria have infant mortality rates that are alarmingly high, on par with or worse than those at Bacchus Marsh. The Hamilton maternity unit in west Victoria tops the list, where infant deaths were 80 per cent more likely, based on 2008-2012 data. It is followed by Casey Hospital in Berwick and Ballarat Health Services, with 68 per cent and 52 per cent infant mortality rates respectively.

The data released by the Department of Health have prompted some hospitals to retrain workers in fetal monitoring and resuscitation. The report shows that major hospitals that specialise in maternity services, such as Monash Medical Centre, Mercy Hospital for Women Clayton and the Royal Women’s, have less infant mortality than the state average.

The report also observes that private hospitals, which were unnamed, had much more favourable conditions than public hospitals. It partly reflected “the less disadvantaged populations using private maternity care,” reveals the report. The hospitals are expected to identify areas for improvement, although the deaths may or may not be altogether avoidable.

Michael Permezel, president of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said, “each hospital should know where it stands and have good reasons for why it stands there,” The Age reports.

“Some hospitals have particularly low socioeconomic status which we know is associated with high rates of perinatal death.”

The data comes at a critical time when reports recently highlighted seven avoidable infant deaths at Bacchus Marsh Hospital between 2013 and 2014. Interestingly, the Djerriwarrh Health Service, which runs the Bacchus Marsh hospital, finds no mention for infant death rates in the report. A spokeswoman for Jill Hennessy, the Victoria health minister, said that this was because only hospitals that have experienced greater than five deaths a year have been included in the report for comparison, according to The Age.

“Due to the extensive clinical and governance failures” at Djerriwarrh, the Consultative Council on Obstetric and Paediatric Mortality had requested a review into its perinatal care services.

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