RURAL women will be able to stay in their home towns to give birth under a Newman Government blueprint to reopen maternity wards.
Midwives would be used to restore services and hospitals would not be required to offer 24-hour emergency caesareans, the Courier Mail reports.
Beaudesert Hospital is the first to consider the contentious midwifery model to re-open its maternity ward.
But the model is also being looked at to secure other maternity services, including at Chinchilla Hospital, which is on the brink of closure due to a shortage of doctors.
It would reverse a trend of shutting down maternity wards where hospitals could not guarantee round-the-clock caesarean coverage due to staff shortages.
Under the model, midwives would perform low-risk births.
Emergency caesarean cases would be airlifted or driven by ambulance to a major hospital.
A similar scheme has been run on a small scale at Mareeba in north Queensland.
The Government is also looking at rolling out a program used in Toowoomba, which allows private midwives to operate in public hospitals.
Obstetricians have raised fears a midwifery model dependent on rushing women to larger hospitals hours away for emergency caesareans could prove risky, but Rural Doctors Association of Queensland spokesman Dr John Hall said overseas statistics proved the scheme could work safely.
"Access to caesareans is preferable, but it shouldn't be a reason to close a unit," he said.
Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said he was determined to push ahead with plans to restore maternity services. "The more people we have birthing and having their operations locally, the less people we have being forced to come into the city, being dislocated and taking up beds that people in the south-east should be using," he said.
He has committed to restoring birthing services at Beaudesert by 2014, but has also pledged to save threatened services at Emerald and Chinchilla.
Re-opening wards at Cooktown and Weipa would be next.
Health experts warn lives are being put at risk as more expectant mothers opt for unnecessary caesareans and induced births to avoid spending weeks away from home in major towns waiting to go into labour following the closure of more than 40 maternity wards in Queensland since 1995.
The number of babies born on the way to hospital has soared from 81 in 2004 to 422 last financial year, state perinatal data reveals.
Full report, Courier Mail.