"Lack of vital paediatric heart equipment"

About: Sutherland Hospital / Child and Adolescent Unit

(as a parent/guardian),

My child was born with a very complex congenital heart condition. They received lifesaving surgery at 1 day old, 4 months and again at 5 years old at the Sydney Children's Hospital at Randwick.

Some time before their second surgery, they had unexplained coughing up of large amounts of blood. I drove them to Emergency at Sutherland Hospital where they were observed and shortly after vomited up black (old blood). My child remained there for a few hours before they were admitted to the children's ward. We asked for my child to have an Echocardiogram to check their heart but were shocked and terrified to be told that there is no paediatric echocardiogram at Sutherland Hospital. 

My child coughed up more blood and required oxygen and we begged the hospital to transfer them to Westmead Heart Centre for Children for treatment.  In the anxious time waiting for the transfer to arrive, our child deteriorated terribly and coughed up more blood and their oxygen levels plummeted to a dangerous level of 45. The worst part was we were in a hospital that couldn't help my child.

Their life was in real danger as they were not able to even tell us what was wrong with my child, what was causing the bleeding or even scan their heart. It took a gruelling 3 hours for their ambulance transfer to arrive and we felt a little safer knowing that they were going to a hospital that could help them.

I urge this hospital to better equip this hospital that services thousands of people. I believe that if Sutherland Hospital does not have paediatric echocardiogram technology, then ambulances should be able to bypass this hospital and drive patients straight to the Sydney Children's Hospital at Randwick or Westmead. 


Response from Vicki Weeden, General Manager, The Sutherland Hospital & Garrawarra Centre last month
Vicki Weeden
General Manager,
The Sutherland Hospital & Garrawarra Centre
Submitted on 30/10/2020 at 12:29
Published on Care Opinion at 12:32

picture of Vicki Weeden

Dear julyfp54,

Attending the Emergency Department with your child as sick as you describe would have been extremely stressful. I therefore understand your concern when advised that a paediatric echocardiogram was not available at Sutherland Hospital.

Paediatric echocardiography is a highly specialised service run by paediatric cardiologists. In order to offer this specialised care and sustain best practice, Paediatric Cardiology care is centralised across NSW and is only routinely offered at the three tertiary paediatric hospitals – Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, Westmead Hospital and the John Hunter Children’s Hospital in Newcastle. Children requiring this service are transferred from peripheral hospitals across NSW to one of these hospitals.

The paediatric team at Sutherland can be in discussion with the paediatric cardiology team at the children’s hospital regarding the patient, but if a child needs review in person or echocardiography, they have to be transferred. This is standard practice across Australia.

Thank you for taking the time to write about your experience as it is often the case that improvements are made by examining the care provided to individual patients. We strive to offer high-quality care to all our patients and I regret that the care provided to your child did not meet your expectations on this occasion.

Kind regards

Vicki Weeden

General Manager

  • {{helpful}} {{helpful == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} this response is helpful

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