A special summit of experts will look into maternity services in remote parts of Queensland amid concerns a lack of obstetrics care is putting expectant mums and babies at risk.
The death rate in rural areas without birthing services is 23.3 babies per 1000 born, almost four times higher than in towns with an obstetrics unit, The Sunday Mail reported.
Rural doctors say the closure of 40 country obstetric units is forcing women to either deliver their babies at home with no medical support or to risk a roadside birth trying to get to a hospital.
Health Minister Steven Miles on Sunday announced the summit, while assuring mothers that Queensland is "one of the safest places in Australia" to give birth.
"But the death of even one mother or baby in childbirth is a tragedy and we continue to look at ways to improve," he said in a statement.
"I've asked the Department of Health to establish a summit, including re-convening an expert panel formed in 2014 to look at these issues."
Mr Miles said the panel would consider safety, staffing and models of care as part of its considerations.
Queensland Health Deputy Director General Dr John Wakefield said the Health Department always put safety first.
"We understand everyone would like every facility or service right there in their own community but safe, specialist birthing services need specialist facilities and enough births to support accredited teams of clinicians," Dr Wakefield said.
"This decision is never made lightly and involves careful and honest consideration of the risks and consequences by health services and their communities. Each situation is unique."
Opposition leader Deb Frecklington said investing in additional fly-in obstetrics and gynaecological services should be considered, along with encouraging more medical professionals to rural areas.
"We need to look after our bush mums. We need to have these services so people have the confidence to have their babies in the bush," she told reporters.
"But if you've a government that is intent on closing down centres like Theodore and Chinchilla, how are you going to encourage more midwives into the bush?"
Queensland has the highest rate of births without a registered midwife present in the country, with more than one child born every day outside of hospital, often on the side of the road.
Some mothers are travelling up to 600km to have their babies or have been forced to spend weeks away from their families in paid accommodation following the closure of 40 maternity units across Queensland over the past few decades.
Australian Associated Press