Scott Morrison slams border closure after couple lose baby after being refused entry into queensland

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Prime minister Scott Morrison has demanded answers from the Queensland premier after a pregnant woman lost one of her unborn twin babies because of the state border closure.  

Mr Morrison said he was heartbroken that Kimberley Brown, from Ballina, in northern New South Wales, was unable to obtain a travel exemption for urgent surgery.

Her unborn twins had developed twin transfusion syndrome – a disorder that leads to malnourishment and organ failure in one of the babies. 

Mrs Brown lived just two hours from Queensland’s Mater Hospital but instead had to wait 16 hours for an emergency flight and travel 750 kilometres to Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.  

An ultrasound later showed Mrs Brown had lost one of the babies. 

Mr Morrison attended the Bush Summit at Cooma on Friday and said the border closures were creating more problems for families. 

‘It’s unthinkable. To know this family has had to deal with border permits at a time when only one thing should have mattered, and that is the health of this young child,’ he said. 

‘I know state borders are putting enormous stress and strain on Australians.

‘We need to get these principles established to ease the impact of these restrictions. We’ve got to put aside the disagreements we’ve had about this and get arrangements that can be workable and also protect people’s health.  

‘If you impose a border, you can’t help but cause problems. That’s why we got rid of them in the first place.’  

Prime minister Scott Morrison has demanded answers from the Queensland premier after a pregnant woman lost one of her unborn twin babies because of the state border closure

Mr Morrison said he was heartbroken that Kimberley Brown, from Ballina, in northern New South Wales, was unable to obtain a travel exemption for urgent surgery

Mr Morrison said he was heartbroken that Kimberley Brown, from Ballina, in northern New South Wales, was unable to obtain a travel exemption for urgent surgery 

The couple were forced to get an emergency flight from Lismore to Sydney despite living just two hours from a hospital in Queensland

The couple were forced to get an emergency flight from Lismore to Sydney despite living just two hours from a hospital in Queensland 

Mr Morrison said he understood border closures were necessary when there were reports of high COVID-19 cases in neighbouring states.

Though he said there was no excuse for closing them when cases were low. 

‘Much more needs to be done to ensure these border movements are made easier and ultimately to ensure they’re open again,’ he said.

‘While the scale of the Victorian outbreak meant the borders between NSW and Vic were regrettably necessary — and they are and remain — this does not diminish the principle that border restrictions, especially where there are no or very low cases in regional areas, cannot and should not be sustained.

‘Australia was not built to have internal borders. The point of federation was not to have them.’ 

Mrs Brown’s father Alan Watt said the ordeal was extremely distressing for the family.

‘I am just really upset – I don’t know what to say. I am really upset this has gone as far as it had,’ Mr Watt said

TIMELINE OF EVENTS 

August 8 – Queensland shuts borders to NSW

August 12 -Kimberley Brown and her husband Scott are told their twins have developed rare disorder and that one of the babies’ lives was at stake.

August 13 – Mater Hospital tell Ms Brown she will have to apply for a border exemption so they decide to travel to Sydney. They wait 16 hours for a flight.

August 14 – Medics perform laser surgery on Ms Watt.

August 27 – Ms Brown discovers she has lost one of the babies following an ultrasound.  

‘We don’t blame anyone for what happened. It is just one of those things that happen.

‘We just hope [the other unborn child] makes it through to a happy ending.’   

Chantelle Northfield was also separated from her newborn son because of the border closure.

She had given birth to her son at Lismore Base Hospital, in New South Wales.

Her son experienced difficulty breathing and was airlifted to Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

Ms Northfield remained in New South Wales and was unable to visit her baby without quarantining for 14 days.  

Annastacia Palaszczuk said she was not involved in individual cases and that the state was always ready to help families in need of urgent care.

‘We are very, very compassionate in this state,’ Ms Palaszczuk said. 

‘If there is someone that needs emergency care, if they need a helicopter to fly them to one of their hospitals, that will happen.’ 

Queensland Health said it did not receive a formal transfer request and that the final decision to transfer Mrs Brown was made by NSW clinicians.  

‘We extend our deepest sympathies to this family,’ a Queensland Health spokesperson said. 

‘Queensland’s current border restrictions are in place for one purpose – to save lives.

‘We never deny essential, emergency health care to those who need it.’    

Mrs Brown's father Alan Watt said the ordeal was extremely distressing for the devastated family

Mrs Brown’s father Alan Watt said the ordeal was extremely distressing for the devastated family

Chantelle Northfield was also separated from her newborn son because of the border closure

Chantelle Northfield was also separated from her newborn son because of the border closure

Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young added not a single person who applied for a medical exemption had been turned away.

‘But for those people wanting to come to Queensland for the first time for care, I am questioning — I am not denying, but I am questioning — why can’t you get this care in New South Wales?’ she during a press conference on Friday.

‘New South Wales has got very, very good hospitals and healthcare.

‘I actually genuinely believe, and we do this in Queensland, that whenever possible you should get care close to where you live.

‘You shouldn’t be travelling for hours to get care.’  

Wayne Jones, chief executive of the Northern NSW Local Health District, told Nine News that the ‘preferred location for the family to give birth was at a hospital in Brisbane.’

‘But under the Queensland Border Direction at the time, the woman and her husband would have had to quarantine at a government hotel for 14 days at their own expense prior to the procedure,’ he said.   

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (pictured) said she was not involved in individual cases and that the state was always ready to help families in need of urgent care

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (pictured) said she was not involved in individual cases and that the state was always ready to help families in need of urgent care

WHAT IS TWIN TO TWIN TRANSFUSION SYNDROME 

Twin to twin transfusion syndrome is a condition that affects approximately 10 per cent (one in ten) of identical twins that share a single placenta. 

Blood vessels that connect the two umbilical cords on the surface of the placenta allow blood from one twin (the donor) to flow into the other twin (the recipient).  

It results in the fetuses growing at different rates and if left untreated it can result in the death or permanent disability for one of the babies.  

*source SSMHealth



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