Midwives fear babies’ lives are at risk at Women’s and Children’s Hospital

11 June 2021

Midwives at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital have expressed serious concerns there could be a neonatal death if something is not done about lack of staffing and bed blockages.

The Women’s and Children’s Health Network is delaying planned inductions of births due to lack of beds, resulting in staff being abused by families as they are told they need to go home and wait to be called.

“This is a totally unacceptable situation and needs to be addressed immediately. The health of babies is being compromised due to an under-resourced health system,’’ said ANMF (SA Branch) CEO/Secretary Adj Associate Professor Elizabeth Dabars AM.

“Some expectant mothers are being induced for medical reasons and their or their unborn baby’s health may suffer from the delay. Midwives are also feeling pressured to do double shifts so that cases are not postponed.”

There have been times when the WCH has been operating at more than double its capacity this year.

“We had 60 children in one night either waiting to be treated or waiting for a bed at the WCH’s emergency department,’’ Ms Dabars said.

“We had a damning report detailing 168 cases of ramping at the WCH in a single year and a parliamentary committee being told that two of four infant deaths linked to a lack of heart surgery could potentially have been preventable.

“Only recently we had a case where a seven-year-old girl’s appendix had ruptured after she was forced to wait more than eight hours for surgery at the WCH, leaving the child in agony.

“WCH Alliance convenor Professor Warren Jones was reported as saying it was one of the worst cases of ‘neglect of duty of care’ he had seen in his 50-year career.

“Earlier this year we had nurses calling for the suspension of elective surgery at the WCH over concerns about safety and fatigue. Some nurses were working more than 100 hours a fortnight and were fearful exhaustion could compromise the safety of young patients.

“To top it off our members have expressed grave concerns about the lack of beds and capacity at the proposed new Women’s and Children’s Hospital.,” Ms Dabars said.

“If the threat to lives of children posed by an unsafe hospital system isn’t enough to spur the Marshall Government into urgent action then what on earth is?

“The answer is simple: more beds, more staff. Why is the Government offering Voluntary Separation Packages at a time when there are not enough staff to fill shifts? It is absurd.

“The consequences of this Government’s inertia are burnt-out hospital staff - a danger to patients in itself - and an alarming lack of appropriate care for our vulnerable young.’’

Our health system is at breaking point and we need our politicians to act now. Can you share your story so we can continue to put the pressure on the State Government to make our battered health care system a priority?

See how you can get involved through our Action for Health campaign now.

See how you can get involved