Tragedy shows need to fast-track hospital upgrades

Member for South West Coast Roma Britnell has urged the Andrews Labor Government to do everything in its power to fast-track the redevelopment of the Warrnambool hospital.

Ms Britnell said the traumatic events that led to the death of Wren McConnell eight days after being born at South West Healthcare highlighted the urgent need for the hospital upgrades.

Wren’s parents, Matthew and Madeline McConnell, attended South West Healthcare on Good Friday when a medical emergency late at night led to an urgent C-section delivery.

Due to the nature of the complications, Wren and the McConnells were taken to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. Sadly and tragically, Wren died in her parents arms eight days later.

“This is one of the most heartbreaking stories I’ve heard,” Ms Britnell said.

“It shows a glaring gap remains between the level of healthcare available in rural and regional Victoria compared to Melbourne.”

Ms Britnell said while there had never been 24-hour theatres at the hospital, the McConnells’ tragedy showed the need to expedite the upgrades.

“The McConnells were shocked when Madeline was taken to a pitch-black theatre at the Warrnambool hospital,” Ms Britnell said.

“The redevelopment at South West Healthcare needs to be prioritised to ensure this type of tragedy never happens again.”

Ms Britnell said there was confusion about when the hospital redevelopment was scheduled to be finished, with government officials seemingly at odds with South West Healthcare’s assertion in its annual report that it would be delayed by a year.

“The government is saying the redevelopment will be completed on time in 2026, however the annual report says it won’t be delivered until 2027 because of delays caused by Covid – so we really need some clarity and certainty around that,” she said.

Ms Britnell said it was also concerning the government had failed to deliver 10 new or upgraded community hospitals as promised at the last election.

“Construction has only started on one of those projects despite the government committing to them four years ago,” she said.

“I am deeply concerned that the government will again ignore the needs of regional Victoria by pushing back upgrades at Warrnambool – that would be disastrous.”

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