A crisis is brewing at Blacktown Hospital in Greater Western Sydney, with a group of senior obstetricians threatening to walk out over a range of issues, including the deaths of four newborn babies over the past 18 months.
The group of 20 specialist medical practitioners has now given the hospital 11 weeks to solve the problems, failing which they will resign. Among the concerns they have identified are understaffing and limited access to essential birthing facilities.
Brad Hazzard, the NSW Health Minister, has asked for a full review of the situation at Blacktown Hospital. His Opposition counterpart, Ryan Park, has called it a “crisis” and an “appalling situation”.
Doctors have written to management
Hazzard said no doctors had resigned as yet, but several had written to the management of the health district and to the hospital’s management, detailing a number of worries.
Among the concerns he had been made aware of, Hazard said, was a lack of access to operating theatres for caesarean births. This poses major risks in the case of emergency C-sections.
“That is now immediately something that the management are looking at, trying to give better access to an operating theatre straight away, rather than having to wait for a few hours,” he stated.
Minister says he requires resolution
Understaffing at the hospital, which is extremely busy, had also been raised with him, the Minister noted.
“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,” Hazzard said.
In an interview with ABC Radio Sydney, he said he had asked hospital’s management and the Clinical Excellence Commission for a full review of the circumstances not only of the passing of the most recent baby in June, but of the broader issues.
Doctors Union also speaks out
Meanwhile, in another interview with radio station 2GB, Doctors Union Executive Director, Andrew Holland, said the threat indicates how serious the state of affairs at the hospital is.
“I think it goes to show how bad the situation is when you get a group of traditionally quite conservative employees … making such a drastic decision.
“I think it shows the staffing problems and the lack of staffing and the resulting problems that come out of that are at tipping point,” he noted.