An investigation is underway after the death of a baby at Blacktown Hospital in Sydney’s west, the sixth baby to have died at the facility in two years.
- The hospital said it was fully staffed at the time of the death
- Hospital officials have met with the family and expressed their condolences over the death
- It comes months after 20 senior doctors threatened to resign over understaffing
Blacktown Hospital has described the baby’s death on Friday as a “tragedy”, but it says the cause of death is not yet clear.
In a statement, the hospital expressed its condolences to the family, which was receiving bereavement support.
The child is the sixth newborn to die unexpectedly during or soon after birth at the Western Sydney hospital in the past two years.
“The Hospital general manager and the Women’s and Children’s nurse manager have met with the family and assured them a root cause analysis (RCA) is underway,” a statement from the hospital’s management read.
There would also be an internal investigation into the infant’s death, it added.
“Western Sydney Local Health District follows a rigorous process to ensure we identify, investigate, and learn from incidents that occur in our hospitals.”
The hospital said at the time of the incident the ward was fully staffed, including with full medical and midwifery coverage.
On Wednesday morning, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian extended her condolences to the family of the baby boy.
“Can I just extend my heartfelt condolences to the family of that little baby,” she said.
“The Minister for Health Brad Hazzard and the health agencies will undertake all the required investigations.”
Opposition Health spokesman Ryan Park said he would be talking to various unions covering the hospital today to get a sense of how the death happened.
Mr Park described it as an “absolute tragedy” and said the family and the community would be demanding answers.
In December, 20 senior obstetricians at Blacktown Hospital threatened to resign amid accusations of understaffing and lack of access to essential medical resources.
At the time, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the 20 doctors had told management they would resign in February if they felt the issues had not been addressed.
“I’ve made it very clear that, having spoken to the obstetricians, I want resolution of these issues and I require resolution of these issues,” Mr Hazzard said in December.
At the time, the State Opposition’s health spokesman Ryan Park described the issues as “an appalling situation” and said Mr Hazzard needed to intervene to urgently resolve what he called a “crisis”.
Today, however, Mr Park said he acknowledged staffing levels had improved and would be “getting to the bottom” of the circumstances of the death.
Since October, Blacktown Hospital said it had appointed “three senior medical officers, four junior doctors and 15 midwives, with more appointments still to be made”.
“The district has also opened a dedicated operating theatre at Blacktown Hospital to provide improved access for emergency caesarean sections,” it said.
Findings from the RCA will be referred to NSW Health and the Clinical Excellence Commission, the hospital’s statement added.