It’s been over three years since school teacher Olivia Keating went to Caboolture hospital for a caesarean and emerged with part of her bowel sewn into the wall of her abdomen.
Since then she’s endured 11 operations to fix a mistake that at times threatened her life and left her with “a football of organs in my groin, that stick outside of my body”.
She has two more surgeries ahead of her and is desperate for some formal acknowledgement of what she’s endured.
But she fears she’s been locked out of a review into allegations of deadly and botched operations at Caboolture Hospital, north of Brisbane.
The terms of reference say the review will cover surgical incidents performed between 2020 and now. Ms Keating had her caesarean in 2018.
“I just want to be acknowledged. How many other people like me are there? My first reaction was what are they so afraid of?” Ms Keating said through tears on Monday.
“My children had to live through me nearly dying, over and over and over. My partner had to see his partner nearly dying, over and over. You don’t know what it’s like to say goodbye to someone before you go into surgery.”
The review was ordered earlier this month after media reports aired claims of preventable deaths, surgical negligence, and a culture of bullying at Caboolture Hospital.
A hotline set up to take complaints has so far had more than 60 calls.
The state Opposition has called the review a sham and claims the terms of reference facilitate a cover up.
“There is no community consultation, there is no ability for patients to actually come forward and talk about their stories,” Liberal National Party health spokeswoman Ros Bates told reporters.
“The time frame basically excludes most of the people who have already come to the LNP with complaints already … and that is just appalling. We need to make sure these people are heard.”
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said the terms of reference were set by the chair of the Metro North Hospital and Health Service board, Jim McGowan.
“They’ve engaged an independent specialist from interstate to do this review,” the minister said.
“This is the proper course I would expect, as our hospital and health services are all independent statutory bodies.
“I’ve made it very clear – and the chair has put this in the terms of reference – that people can come forward with any concerns, or complaints, or issues that have arisen at the hospital, and they will be considered as part of this review.”
Beryl Crosby is a former patient of disgraced Bundaberg Hospital surgeon Jayant Patel, who went on to form a support group for people who say they suffered under his care.
She joined Ms Keating outside the Caboolture Hospital on Monday and said she’d already called Queensland Health Director-General John Wakefield seeking support for Caboolture Hospital victims.
“Don’t be worried about telling your story. It needs to be told,” she said. “There will be a lot of reasons why patients wouldn’t have complained already … People think they’re a one-off. And I did.”
She urged nurses and doctors at Caboolture to report anything they know.
“If you are a whistleblower please don’t do what they did in Bundaberg, don’t just be frightened for your jobs, or worried you’re being bullied … please come and help these patients. You are sometimes their only advocate.”
AAP has sought additional comment from the Metro North board, which has commissioned independent general surgeon Dr Jim Sweeney to conduct the review.Internet Explorer Channel Network