The parents of a girl who died at Perth Children’s Hospital (PCH) have met with embattled Health Minister Roger Cook to determine the nature of an external inquiry into her death and other serious incidents at the hospital.
- Aishwarya Aswath died at PCH while waiting for treatment
- The Premier and Health Minister have apologised to the family
- Aishwarya’s father has called for an external review into the incident
Mr Cook, who is facing calls to resign from the peak doctor’s group and the Opposition over the matter, was accompanied by local MP Amber-Jade Sanderson on the visit to the family’s home in Morley.
Seven-year-old Aishwarya Aswath succumbed to an infection after waiting in the emergency department on Saturday, April 3.
Both Premier Mark McGowan and Mr Cook have apologised to Aishwarya’s family for “the failure and for the heartbreak and devastation” her death has caused them.
Aishwarya’s father, Aswath Chavittupara, on Thursday said an apology was not good enough and a full external investigation was necessary to ensure there was not another death of a child.
Leaving the meeting with the family, Mr Cook said it was a very respectful and very private conversation and did not comment further.
He is expected to announce next week the details of an external inquiry into the circumstances of Aishwarya’s death, the operation of the hospital and 21 prior cases of serious incidents there.
Family will meet again next week
Spokesman for the family, Suresh Rajan, emerged from the home after Mr Cook to say Aishwarya’s mother, Prasitha Sasidharan, and Mr Chavittupara were “encouraged” and “comforted” by what the minister had to say.
“I think it gives the family some heart there’s someone at the highest level taking notice of what they want,” Mr Rajan said.
He explained previous attempts at meetings had been delayed by the recent COVID-19 lockdown.
They will meet again early next week to further discuss the composition and nature of the external inquiry.
Parents repeat criticism of internal review
Aishwarya’s parents repeated their criticism of the 11 recommendations made after an internal inquiry into Aishwarya’s death.
The recommendations included improvement to the triage process policy at PCH, a clear pathway for parents to escalate concerns to staff, a review of cultural awareness for staff, and the development of an established sepsis recognition diagnostic tool in the emergency department.
Ms Sasidharan said the internal inquiry was not satisfactory and raised more questions than it gave answers.
Mr Rajan said Mr Cook “fully appreciated” their position and mainly listened and responded to questions.
“We’re very comforted by the stance the minister’s taken,” he said.
The family has received a letter from the coroner’s office informing them they would decide whether there would be an inquiry.
Mr Rajan said the tone of the letter was “extremely pushy” and did not give the family a say in the matter.
He said the family maintained their position it was not up to them to say whether Mr Cook should resign, but they needed to continue working with him.
Child and Adolescent Health Service board chair Deb Karasinski resigned in the wake of the internal report.
Opposition health spokeswoman Libby Mettam on Thursday accused Mr Cook of not taking responsibility for the crisis and called on him to step down.
Australian Medical Association WA president Andrew Miller has joined the criticism of the Health Minister, saying he should be replaced by “someone with fresh eyes”.
But Mr McGowan has rejected the calls for Mr Cook to resign.