Fear over mys­tery deaths in hospi­tal

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - LINDA SILMALIS CHIEF RE­PORTER

THE State Op­po­si­tion has called for an in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion into two “un­ex­plained deaths” in Fair­field Hospi­tal’s ma­ter­nity unit.

The deaths, which have been re­ferred to the Coro­ner, oc­curred in De­cem­ber 2015.

NSW Health has re­fused to re­veal de­tails of the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the deaths but has ad­mit­ted it over­hauled the ma­ter­nity unit af­ter­wards.

Fair­field Hospi­tal Gen­eral Man­ager Arnold Tam­mekand said the over­haul had in­cluded en­hanc­ing the hospi­tal’s pae­di­atric ser­vice with pae­di­atric doc­tors “avail­able on site 24hours, seven days a week”.

“The ser­vice will en­sure im­me­di­ate and spe­cialised care for new­born ba­bies through to ado­les­cents. A num­ber of strate­gies and ini­tia­tives have been im­ple­mented ... in­clud­ing monthly Ma­ter­nity Risk Man­age­ment Com­mit­tee meet­ings,” he said.

The hospi­tal has not re­vealed whether the deaths in­volved mothers or ba­bies. At a re­cent meet­ing of the South West­ern Syd­ney Area Health Ser­vice Board, it was re­vealed a se­nior mid­wife had re­signed.

State op­po­si­tion health spokesman Walt Secord said the pub­lic had a right to know what had caused the deaths, that were of such con­cern they had trig­gered an over­haul of the ma­ter­nity unit.

“We know that staff have been re­moved, but that is all we know,” he said. “Health district board min­utes show that the Fair­field Hospi­tal in­ci­dent was re­lated to a lack of re­sources and was fund­ing-re­lated. That lies straight at the feet of the NSW Gov­ern­ment.”

Mr Secord said the mat­ter was so se­ri­ous that the De­cem­ber 2015 deaths were dis­cussed at the South West­ern Syd­ney Lo­cal Health District full board meet­ings on at least three oc­ca­sions, in­clud­ing Fe­bru­ary 15 and March 21.

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