Friday, September 28, 2007

Miscarriage prompts new protocol

NSW Health Minister Reba Meagher faced more pressure tonight after her attempts to improve the treatment of pregnant women in danger of miscarrying were attacked as inadequate.

Ms Meagher today announced that pregnant women who attend a NSW hospital's emergency department would be immediately referred to the maternity ward.

The minister said the move would provide appropriate clinical and emotional support to women with pregnancy complications or symptoms of miscarriage.

The announcement came after it emerged that Sydney woman Jana Horska had miscarried in the toilets of the emergency department at Royal North Shore Hospital (RNS) after she waited two hours for help on Tuesday night.

The story caused outrage, and prompted other accounts of problems at the hospital.

Opposition health spokeswoman Jillian Skinner said today's announcement failed to address wider concerns raised about the state of the hospital.

She said it was "knee-jerk reaction" which would pre-empt the outcome of an inquiry launched into the case of Ms Horska.

"Staff working in maternity wards have already told me they are rushed off their feet now," Mrs Skinner told reporters.

"And what's going to happen to women who present in hospitals where the minister and the Labor government has already closed down ... their maternity wards."

Mrs Skinner said the last place a woman would want to be when having a miscarriage was in the maternity ward where other women were celebrating a birth.

Ms Meagher again rejected calls for an inquiry into Ms Horska's incident to be expanded to investigate the entire RNS.

She has also denied claims from a former RNS employee that the hospital did not receive adequate funding because it was not in a marginal electorate.
Dr Linda Dayan, who worked in the hospital's sexual health department for 11 years, said the cutbacks cost her a job.

"I wonder if it was part of a political agenda as well - we were coming up to a state election and I was also told ... that maybe they didn't need votes in that area," Dr Dayan told Macquarie Radio.

Ms Meagher said those claims were "absolute nonsense" insisting the RNS budget this year increased by $9.5 million and the hospital was undergoing a major redevelopment.

"The government has committed more money than ever before to Royal North Shore ... it's not true that money is being redirected away from that hospital," she said.

Ms Meagher said that since Ms Horska's ordeal she had been notified of women suffering similar incidents of miscarriage who had not received the care they deserved.

"Under this (new) model, pregnant women presenting in emergency departments will be transferred immediately to the maternity unit," Ms Meagher told reporters.

"There they will receive the clinical care and support they need from trained midwives and specialist staff."

Ms Meagher said Professor William Walters, who was investigating Ms Horska's case, would now also examine what options were available for hospitals without a maternity ward.


No comments: