Small- town doctor’s suspension leaves pregnant women stranded
EXPECTANT mothers are being forced to drive hundreds of kilometres to deliver their babies after their obstetrician was suspended when it was revealed he had a criminal conviction.
Dr Johannes “Bernie” Haasbroek claims he was delivering more than 140 babies a year while working at Leeton Hospi- tal in the Riverina, until being stood down last year.
Since then, local health officials have been unable to replace him.
As there is only one other obstetrician in town, who only works part-time, women are being forced to drive an hour to Griffith Hospital to give birth.
Last Sunday, the wife of a doctor delivered her own baby at the side of the road while on her way to Griffith Hospital, while another gave birth at Leeton Hospital at a time when no doctors were on the premises.
Dr Haasbroek was suspended after being convicted of domestic assault, breaching an Apprehended Violence Order and stalking and intimidation offences, resulting in a ninemonth good behaviour bond.
The conviction followed a separate ongoing investigation into a stillbirth that occurred on his watch while he was working as a visiting medical officer at Ceduna Hospital, South Australia, in 2015.
The incident led to a series of “undertakings” to national medical watchdog the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency relating to treating pregnant women.
The undertakings — a legal agreement “to protect the public”— were known to the hospital, which allowed Dr Haasbroek to continue working under supervision.
South African-born Dr Haasbroek, 50, was also caught up in a medical negligence case in 2010, which led to a patient being awarded $290,000.