Fatal decision to turn away pregnant woman from Tumut hospital defended

SHOCK DEATH: Naomi Williams and her unborn child were lost when the 27-year-old was turned away from Tumut hospital on New Year's Day.

SHOCK DEATH: Naomi Williams and her unborn child were lost when the 27-year-old was turned away from Tumut hospital on New Year's Day.

MURRUMBIDGEE Local Health District (MLHD)  management has denied Tumut hospital staff were “burnt out” when a fatal decision was made to turn away pregnant Naomi Williams on New Year’s Day.

Naomi arrived at Tumut hospital on January 1 complaining of a headache.

The expectant mother was sent home and died hours later of cardiac arrest.

An autopsy carried out five days later revealed she had died of meningococcal and septicemia. 

The 27-year-old’s mother Sharon Williams has questioned whether overworked staff in the emergency department were to blame.

“I think they need to do a good clean out of their staff, I think staff are burnt out,” Ms Williams said. “They are losing their compassion and respect for patients.”

But MLHD chief executive Jill Ludford has said the hospital was “staffed accordingly to the level of patient activity” at the time Naomi came for help. 

“MLHD Hospital Emergency Departments have highly experienced nurses trained in First Line Emergency Care to enable them to assess patients and provide high level emergency care,” she said.

“Tumut Hospital has a Nurse Educator to provide ongoing education and training to staff.”

Ms Ludford has also said that an internal investigation into Naomi’s death has concluded, and staff would meet with the family to discuss its findings. 

Wagga MP Daryl Maguire has said he is satisfied that MLHD staff have handled the case “accordingly”.

In February he sought answers from the health district on behalf of Ms Williams. 

But Mr Maguire said he would also support any move from Naomi’s family to pursue the case further through MLHD’s independent complaints organisation.

“It’s a matter for the individual and should they choose to go to the next step I am supportive of that, because that is why we have these organisations in place,” he said.

News of Naomi’s death has also come as officials from the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association met with management last Thursday over nursing shortages at Wagga hospital.

Nurses there allege a chronic lack of staff at the hospital have resulted in nurses working overtime and completing jobs below their skill set, such as cleaning beds and wards.