A heavily pregnant mother who was forced to wait 16 hours for emergency surgery in Sydney after being turned away at the Queensland border has lost one of her unborn twin babies.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was slammed for saying the state’s hospitals were ‘for our people only’ – and initially did not grant the seriously ill mum-to-be’s exemption despite her needing emergency surgery for the unborn twins.
The mother, from Ballina in New South Wales which is 88km from the Queensland border, had twins who were just 24 weeks along and needed urgent care.
She wasn’t initially granted an exemption to cross the border for surgery at the Gold Coast University Hospital 125km away and instead had to wait for 16 hours in Lismore for a flight to Sydney.
The woman’s father Allan Watt says one of the twins became anaemic during surgery at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney.
‘She was the healthy bub and unfortunately she was the one who passed away yesterday,’ he sobbed on the phone to 4BC radio.
Mr Watt hasn’t spoken with his daughter or her husband, but his wife is staying with the couple, who have had to rent an apartment in across the road from the hospital.
‘It’s busted our family apart, I’m up here, her sisters and brothers are in Queensland and they’re in Sydney,’ he said.
Mr Watt said the family were very upset about his daughter being denied an exemption.
Queensland Chief Officer Dr Jeannette Young said on Thursday the NSW woman’s exemption had been approved as soon as her application had been made.
Ms Palaszczuk had said last week while she was not aware of the specifics of the case, the decision about who to let into Queensland would be made by health professionals, not politicians.
‘People living in NSW have NSW hospitals. In Queensland, we have Queensland hospitals for our people,’ she said.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton on Friday hit out at Ms Palaszczuk for her ‘preposterous’ comments.
‘Her saying that Queensland hospitals were only for Queenslanders is complete nonsense and it needs to stop,’ Mr Dutton told Sky News.
‘I think people need to mark her down for playing politics.’
Queensland state opposition leader Deb Frecklington called on Premier Palaszczuk to grant automatic exemptions to all Australians facing medical emergencies.
‘My heart bleeds for the family and everything they have been put through,’ she said in a statement.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard meanwhile called her comments ‘astonishing’.
He urged her to review her border arrangements to ‘ensure patients receive the health care they need’.
He said there were patients in northern NSW in need of renal transplants who were being denied access to the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane.
Those patients were being forced to drive themselves ’12 or more hours to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney’, he said.
Mr Watt previously told 9News the unborn twins needed the emergency treatment after being diagnosed with a rare illness at just 24 weeks old.
‘The Queensland government is treating people that are in dire need like they are lepers,’ he said.
Another young mother was also left heartbroken as she was separated from her newborn son due to the draconian border restrictions.
Chantelle Northfield, from Casino in northern New South Wales, welcomed her second son Harvey at nearby Lismore Base Hospital last Friday.
Little Harvey had difficulty breathing and was airlifted to Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital for lifesaving treatment.
But his terrified mother was unable to be at her newborn’s bedside as she would need to quarantine for 14 days first.
‘Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the closure of the Queensland border, Glen and I were refused entry to the hospital until after 14 days mandatory quarantine in a hotel,’ Ms Northfield wrote in a gut-wrenching Facebook post.