Girl's death sparks Perth hospital rally

·2-min read

Scores of healthcare workers have rallied outside Perth Children's Hospital as the West Australian government finalised plans for an inquiry into the death of a seven-year-old patient.

The Australian Medical Association and Australian Nurses Federation organised Tuesday's protest calling for improved conditions and support.

They say the death of Aishwarya Aswath has highlighted systemic problems within the state's public hospitals and are furious that two junior nurses and a doctor who treated the girl have been referred to the medical watchdog.

"We want to support Aishwarya's family in their search for answers, transparency and responsibility at all levels of the healthcare system," AMA WA president Andrew Miller said.

Health Minister Roger Cook addressed the protesters and later published the terms of reference for an independent inquiry into Aishwarya's death.

"No inquiry will reduce the loss suffered by Aishwarya's family nor the distress of staff involved but is vital we all get answers," Mr Cook said.

"The ultimate goal for everyone is to learn from this tragic case, not only to honour the memory of Aishwarya, but also to restore public confidence in our flagship children's hospital."

Seven-year-old Aishwarya died of an infection on Easter Saturday after being forced to wait for treatment in the PCH emergency department.

A root cause analysis report by WA's Child and Adolescent Health Service found staff missed a "cascade" of opportunities to escalate her care.

The unions reject the government's assertion that the emergency department was adequately staffed on the night.

They say health executives failed to act on staff warnings about safety and resourcing, as well as treatment delays and record ambulance ramping at other hospitals.

The upcoming inquiry will look at clinical governance at the hospital and expects to report back with findings, conclusions and recommendations 10 weeks after getting underway, the minister's office confirmed.

"This inquiry will also investigate the roles and responsibilities of clinicians, management and the executive at PCH, and their escalation of issues," the statement read.

The report will be publicly available after after being provided to Aishwarya's family, and stakeholder health groups.

A coronial inquest will also be held.

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