Another resignation at north Qld hospital

Fraser Barton and Marty Silk |

A fifth person named in a report into malpractice and cultural problems at a north Queensland hospital has resigned.

A probe found inadequate care at the Mackay Hospital and Health Service contributed to the deaths of three babies in the last decade.

There were also problems with incident monitoring, management of safety and quality complications and clinical deterioration at the facility between 2019 and 2021, said the report, released last month.

Four clinicians mentioned in the report have already resigned, while another has been suspended.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath says a fifth person has also quit at the Mackay HHS, and all individuals involved have been referred to the ombudsman.

“None of these individuals is now involved in delivering clinical care at Mackay Hospital, nor a neurologist who was suspended by the HHS last month,” she told parliament on Wednesday.

The report was ordered last October after women patients complained about complications from caesareans and alleged they had been harmed by clinicians.

Almost 100 women told investigators they had been neglected, hadn’t had their problems resolved, didn’t get a follow-up appointment, were left in pain or discharged back to GPs.

Some 26 cases fell below expected medical standards resulting in personal injury or harm, the report found.

Ms D’Ath said 47 of the report’s 122 recommendations had already been implemented.

“As far as what occurred at the Mackay Hospital and Health Service, I have unreservedly apologised,” she told parliament.

The health service board has until Friday to respond to a show cause notice about how they can effectively discharge their duties and obligations and why they should not be dismissed.

Liberal National Party education spokesman Christian Rowan asked Ms D’Ath if she personally would face any consequences for the hospital’s failures.

But the minister defended her record, saying she was working to ensure changes were made.

“Not just making sure that the hospital’s health service itself implements the recommendations from this investigation, but the board is also held accountable for their role,” she said.

The minister noted the report also found that staff complaints were not being listed by their superiors.

She said she would ensure there was system across the health system to escalate complaints in future.

“Because it is unacceptable that that was not occurring at Mackay Hospital,” Ms D’Ath said.

“It is clear from the evidence coming in from the forensic services inquiry that issues are being raised where senior leadership were not listening, and I want to make sure that the entire health system is looking at implementing changes.”