Labor-Greens government must improve healthcare for sick and deteriorating children


Shadow Minister for Health Leanne Castley will put forward a motion in the Legislative Assembly today, calling on the ACT Labor-Greens government to immediately improve health care for very sick and deteriorating children at the Canberra Hospital.

Ms Castley said following the recent tragic deaths of a five-year-old girl and 13-year-old boy, the Labor-Greens government must act urgently to bolster early warning systems for rapidly deteriorating children.

“We have to do everything we can to stop our children dying in our hospitals,” Ms Castley said.

“The AMA (ACT) has identified improvements to the Paediatric Early Warning System (PEWS) which is used at The Canberra Hospital and said better systems operate in New South Wales and Victoria.

“I am calling on the government to immediately improve PEWS as the AMA has identified and reveal what investigations it has made into the NSW and Victorian systems.

“If the systems are better in NSW and Victoria as the AMA has said, then let’s implement them here.”

The Labor-Greens government has revealed the hospital’s system for monitoring sick and deteriorating children has been under review for 12 months, including input from clinicians.

Ms Castley is also calling on the government to release the review and its response and confirm if they have evaluated the PEWS system.

The new protocol identified by the AMA would allow staff to escalate the care of a sick child based on one factor, or single vital sign, alone.

The ‘single trigger system’ would mean an increased heart rate, blood pressure or temperature for example, would escalate the frequency of observations and the call for additional care.

“Sick children can deteriorate extremely quickly, and it is clear we can do better in identifying that,” Ms Castley said.

“Canberra parents and carers need to have complete trust and confidence that their hospital is doing everything it can to keep our kids alive. That is why these measures are so vital.”