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Botched surgeries, doctor 'outside skill-set' claims force independent review of hospital

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An independent review has been ordered amid mounting negligence claims against a Queensland hospital, including botched surgeries and operations that resulted in deaths.

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Health Minister Yvette D’Ath has spent days defending the Caboolture Hospital in parliament, but on Thursday raised her own concerns about the latest claim – that a doctor performed an operation outside their skill set.

“I sought information about that overnight and I can say that I’m not satisfied with the information that I’ve received,” she told parliament.

She said the board of the local health service that runs the hospital wasn’t satisfied either.

“That is why the board chair, this morning, has commissioned an independent review into surgical services.”

Earlier this week, Queensland Health opened a hotline to take complaints about surgical care at the hospital.

That followed a series of media reports that cited current and former staff, and patients, alleging surgeries had been botched, and that some of those operations had resulted in deaths that were preventable.

On Thursday, a new claim was aired – that a whistleblower doctor warned hospital bosses almost a year ago that patients were being operated on by surgeons who weren’t trained in specific procedures.

In announcing the independent review, Metro North Health Board chair Jim McGowan said it was about “transparency and community confidence”.

He said the review would consider the allegations that have been made, identify the effectiveness of the processes that have already been put in place, and make recommendations for further improvements if needed.

“Caboolture Hospital takes all staff and patient claims incredibly seriously, and any and all claims are reviewed thoroughly, including those that have been publicly raised,” Mr McGowan said on Thursday.

“We are now adding a further layer of review from an independent body so our Caboolture Hospital community can have full confidence in the care they receive.”

As late as Wednesday, the Metro North Hospital and Health Service said it was “confident in the safety and quality of care at Caboolture Hospital”.

In parliament on Wednesday, Ms D’Ath batted away opposition questions about the issue, saying: “At this point in time there is no findings of systemic failings in this system, or by any one individual.”

She accused the opposition of undermining public confidence in the health system during the pandemic – a time when that confidence was so important.

The minister also said the complaints hotline had only received three calls in its first day or so of operation.

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