Another sudden and unexpected death of a newborn has occurred at the Blacktown Hospital facility over the weekend, one of the largest and busiest hospitals in the state. This is the sixth reported death of a newborn at the hospital in as little as two years.
The death comes after concerns about poor resourcing and understaffing were raised last year by 20 senior obstetricians at the hospital, as well as midwifery and nursing staff. The senior obstetricians threatened to resign if their grave concerns about the compromised health and safety of patients were not addressed.
Similarly, midwives at the facility in November last year described themselves as traumatised by tragic deaths and fatigued, stating that they were in desperate need of relief from unsafe staffing levels, which were putting patient safety and their professional registration at risk. There had been a 52% increase in births at Blacktown Hospital since 2015, with only an 11% corresponding rise in staffing. Following multiple infant fatalities over an 18 month period and their ongoing staffing concerns, the midwives gave Western Sydney Local Health District 48 hours to address their concerns.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard has last year ordered a full review of the facility after the death of four newborns within an 18 month period. Shadow Minister Ryan Park described the situation as a “health system in crisis” with urgent intervention required from the New South Wales Government for additional resources.
The hospital will investigate the latest newborn fatality internally in line with NSW Health policies. It has indicated ahead of its findings that at the time of the incident, the ward was fully staffed with full medical and midwifery coverage.
Hospitals may be liable to patients and surviving family members for injuries and deaths caused as a result of under-resourcing and/or understaffing in the hospital setting, if the death or injury could have been prevented or avoided had safe and adequate medical, midwifery and/or nursing care been provided.
If you or your family have been impacted in these or similar circumstances and would like to speak to a legal professional in a sensitive and confidential setting, please contact the Medical Negligence team at Turner Freeman Lawyers to speak with a lawyer with expertise in neonatal injuries and deaths.
NSW Nurses & Midwives Association: https://www.nswnma.asn.au/dire-situation-forces-blacktown-midwives-to-speak-out/
 NSW Nurses & Midwives Association, Dire situation forces Blacktown midwives to speak out, 18 November 2020, https://www.nswnma.asn.au/dire-situation-forces-blacktown-midwives-to-speak-out/