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Questions raised over 'systematic failures' at Qld hospital

Photo: Questions over Qld hospital's failures
Questions have been raised about why it took four tragedies for a Queensland hospital to review its practices.

The lawyer representing two families whose babies were injured during birth at Rockhampton Hospital has welcomed improvements to its maternity ward, but says it's worrying that it took so long to address "systemic failures".

An independent review into patient safety was commissioned in February following the death of one baby and serious injuries, including brain damage, to three others in the eight months from July 2015.

A report containing the findings and 35 recommendations for improving the Central Queensland ward was released on Wednesday.

It included the need for adequate training, improved morale, better leadership and increased staff-to-patient ratios during labour and birth.
There was also a call for an "urgent recruitment process to fill gaps in consultant obstetrician and paediatrician staffing".

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers' medical negligence principal, Sarah Atkinson, said the report would improve faith and confidence in the maternity unit but it wouldn't change what happened to the four families.

"Having a suitable staffing mix with appropriately trained and skilled doctors and nurses is health care 101," she said on Wednesday.

"Patients have a right to expect a decent level of care and it is very disappointing to see these avoidable, systemic failures in an Australian hospital in this day and age."

Ms Atkinson questioned how many families had been affected by the "breakdown in primary care".

"It is very worrying that it has taken four tragic cases to warrant an investigation and to force change at the hospital," she said.

Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service chief executive Len Richards expressed his remorse on Wednesday for the damage the unit had caused the families.

"Our systems and processes have contributed to the poor outcomes in all four cases and for that and on behalf of the organisation I would apologise," he said.

Mr Richards said the unit had taken steps to learn from its mistakes and had implemented changes since February.

"We identified some concerns as a result of a pattern that was happening," he told AAP on Wednesday.

Mr Richards said eight more midwives had been hired and staff had held a series of workshops.

The hospital has developed an action plan with a list of 60 objectives to be completed by August.

Mr Richards has also committed to implementing each recommendation surrounding the death and injuries of the babies within six months.

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