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Roy backs Ombudsman hospital investigation

Tuesday, 21st January, 2020

Barwon MP Roy Butler Barwon MP Roy Butler

By Craig Brealey

The opening of an investigation into allegations of a cover-up at a NSW country hospital was good news, according to MP Roy Butler.

The Ombudsman’s office is looking into complaints raised by senior staff at the Coffs Harbour Hospital that management sought to hide the circumstances surrounding the death of a patient in 2014.

The Executive Director of Workforce, Nursing and Midwifery at the Mid North Coast Local Health District at the time, Stephen Rodwell, was appointed the Chief Executive of the Far West LHD in 2017.

“I welcome the Ombudsman’s investigation but it is a shame it’s taken this long and that so many people had to get involved,” Mr Butler said yesterday.

“For some time I have been backing calls for an audit of regional hospitals,” he said.

“There are a lot of questions to ask, especially about the practice of employing people with certain behaviours who they then hire for other locations.”

Mr Butler said he hoped the Ministry was more serious about fixing the problems than it showed itself to be by the way it handled the complaints first raised in 2015.

John Greville, Investigations Manager for the Mid North Coast LHD, and Karen Allen, the District Nurse Manager, wrote separate reports into the death of a 42-year-old Jaimie Byrne.

They found that he died because due to the negligence and wilful misconduct of nurses in the Mental Health Unit and claim that senior management withheld this information from the Coroner. 

Mr Greville and Mr Byrne took their complaints to the Ministry of Health which they said failed to properly investigate them for years.

Eventually they took their evidence to the Ombudsman’s office which announced its investigation last month.

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