Hornsby hospital tragedy: patients speak out

Under pressure: Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital
Under pressure: Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital

Jenny Barlass

Investigation now underway

The death of a five year-old boy just ten hours after he visited Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital’s emergency department has divided opinion on to the hospital.

The Wahroonga boy who has not been named, was taken there in early September after he’d complained to his parents of stomach pains.

After spending four hours at the hospital the boy passed a stool and felt better. He was then sent home around 7pm, his parents told to monitor him.

But the child deteriorated quickly and they rushed him to The Sydney Adventist Hospital in Wahroonga around 2.15am. He passed away two hours later.

The case is now before the NSW Coroner and while pending, a local area health spokesperson said they could not comment. In a statement a North Sydney Local Health District spokesperson said: “Our deepest sympathies are extended to the family and friends of this little boy for their tragic loss.

“The NSW Chief Paediatrician will provide external oversight and input into a thorough review of the circumstances around the child’s death. This is now also a matter for the Coroner.”

Readers have posted on the Monthly Chronicle’s Facebook page, mostly defending the Hospital.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has asked for a report from the Northern Sydney Local Health District, while Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord has called for an independent investigation into the Hospital resourcing.

Secord said that since the state budget, he’d spoken to “angry doctors” who said the $200 million the hospital received in the budget was $50 million less than what they’d been promised.

“Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital lurches from crisis to crisis,” he said. “Doctors, nurses and allied health workers say they’re working with one arm tied behind their backs due to the lack of the much-needed upgrade.

“People are sending me messages cataloging their bad experiences there. We need an urgent independent review to ascertain whether this boy’s death was resourcing or staffing issues or both.”

But in an exchange between the two politicians during state parliament’s budgetary estimates, Mr Hazzard told the House: “Stage one ($121 million) was completed and opened in the last 12 months. Stage two is another $200 million. The doctors were all consulted in the clinical services plan. They signed off on the clinical services plan, and Health Infrastructure is currently working its way through the master planning for the project. The Government is actually delivering, effectively, a new Hornsby hospital. I think the current Government is doing everything we can humanly do.”

Comments from the public posting on the Monthly Chronicle’s Facebook page

“I have had several experiences at Hornsby Hospital emergency unit. One when they saved my brother’s leg after the wrong thing had been done at another hospital – in the midst of car accidents, football accidents, a man who kept having heart attacks and a pedestrian hit by a car, they looked after him well, and showed compassion to me sitting with him all night in the cold. The nurse brought me warm blankets and said reassuring things as they checked on him with incredible regularity till he could get the help he needed. When my elderly mother was there waiting for a hospital bed they were also amazing. I won’t have a word said against them based on my experiences.” Rosie Charles.

Hornsby emergency department saved my life in June, but the care I received afterwards on the ward after my huge op almost killed me. I have nothing but praise for emergency but unfortunately will never, ever attend the hospital again after almost dying after being put on the ward with incompetent staff, especially the residents and casual nurses! Hornsby needs a HUGE shake up.  If it hadn’t have been for the quick and clear thinking of the head of ED I wouldn’t be here today. I can’t thank him enough.”
Nicole Goodhew.

“Hornsby Hospital ED and Paediatric Doctors saved our daughter’s life with their fast and accurate diagnosis. I appreciate everyone’s story may be different but I’m fairly certain the positive will outweigh the negative.”
Michelle Desmarchelier.

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