WA Health Minister concedes girl's deteriorating condition may have been 'overlooked' before her death

WA Health Minister concedes girl's deteriorating condition may have been 'overlooked' before her death

A seven-year-old girl who died at Perth Children’s Hospital over the Easter long weekend may have been “overlooked”, Western Australia’s Health Minister has admitted.

Aishwarya Aswath developed a fever on Good Friday and was taken to hospital on Saturday but allegedly had to wait for up to two hours in the emergency department before she received treatment.

“It would appear that the deteriorating condition of the girl was overlooked for one reason or another,” Health Minister Roger Cook told 6PR radio on Tuesday.

“Whenever you have a situation where you see a potential clinical failure, you obviously move heaven and earth to make sure that you understand the root cause of the particular incident and make sure you put measures in place to ensure that, as very much as we can guarantee, that it doesn’t happen again.”

Mr Cook said he was “absolutely shocked” by Aishwarya’s tragic death.

“I’ll be seeking an urgent briefing from the department in relation to this horrible, horrible incident,” he said.

“I can’t imagine the pain that this young girl’s parents are going through today, having experienced what they have in relation to the care for their daughter.

“I really want to get to the bottom of the matter and make sure that we can respond in a way which provides those parents with some comfort even though we’ll never be able to replace the loss.”

Asked if his instinct was that the process had failed, Mr Cook said: “My instinct is that there’s a gap in the communication process … I don’t want to pre-empt any inquiry.

“Clearly these parents feel let down, they need answers and I want answers for them.”

Aishwarya’s mother said she went to the emergency department reception four or five times after her daughter’s eyes became cloudy.

“I asked them to have a look at her. I was begging them ‘please help, please help’,” she told 9 News.

“They didn’t think it was an emergency.”

Aishwarya’s father cried uncontrollably as he described their ordeal.

“I lost my daughter ... this should never happen to any other child in this country,” he said.

Western Australia’s health system has been under growing pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic, with issues including ambulance ramping and staff shortages.

Asked if the state was facing a “crisis” in the health system, Mr Cook said there were “a range of challenges”.

“I have never backed away from the issues associated with our hospitals or the challenges and the pressures that they are under,” he said.