NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner is in the middle of a career crisis, with calls for her resignation following a tragic hospital mix-up caused the death of a newborn. A second infant has suffered serious brain damage, after both babies were treated with nitrous oxide, rather than oxygen following their births.
Understandably the family who have lost their children are devastated and rightly so. Suffering the loss of a child must be absolutely harrowing and to learn, a week after the death, that a hospital error caused that death would be indescribably horrific.
According to Australian news reports, it is the parents of the deceased baby John who are calling for Minister Skinner to resign. The couple, Sonia and Youssef Ghanem, claim to be angered most by the Ministers failure to contact them.
“She told everyone she didn’t speak to us because we asked for privacy but that is not true. We wanted to speak to her, to find out what has happened and know the truth. She has only given us a call just now, at about 3pm,” they told The Daily Telegraph. “This is why people want her to resign.”
While the Ghanem’s anger and obvious pain is justified, calling for the resignation of the Health Minister is a mistake, albeit an understandable reaction.
Jillian Skinner is the one person who should keep her job in this instance.
Did she handle the situation well? Possibly not. Did she display proper respect for the grieving family? Perhaps not. Would she approach the heartbreaking situation differently, given the chance? We’d like to think so.
However, Jillian Skinner is the one person who can take this abhorrent accident, and use the lessons learned from it to make sure it never, ever happens again. She is the Health Minister for the state of New South Wales, and as such has the power to make changes, set in place the checks and balances needed to ensure the safety of patients in our hospitals. She has the capacity to share the knowledge with other states, and countries, and her position within the NSW Government means she can affect real change within the health system.
Obviously something went very wrong at the Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital on July 13, and a full investigation on how such a dangerous mix-up is possible needs to be immediately launched. Heads may roll, depending on the outcome of such investigations, but the resignation of the government minister is not the answer.
Instead Ms Skinner must now step forward, ask the hard questions and seek the answers needed to protect our most vulnerable.
R.I.P baby John.