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Investigation underway into deaths of babies at Bacchus Marsh and Melton Regional Hospital

UPDATE: A probe into newborn deaths at Bacchus Marsh and Melton Regional Hospital has found seven may have been avoidable.

The entire board of the Djerriwarrh Health Service has been stood down and all midwifery services have been reviewed in what has been described as a ‘catastrophic event’.

Health Minister Jill Hennessy said it was a ‘devastating set of circumstances’ and promised full support to the families affected.

‘There is nothing that will ever mend the loss of losing a child,’ she said.

‘To learn that that death may have been avoidable, but for a series of system failures, can only compound that loss and pain.’

The health department began an investigation in March this year after being alerted to an unusually high number of baby deaths over a two year period.

The death rate was double the state average.

The investigation has found of the 10 deaths in 2013 and 2014, seven may have been avoidable.

Five of the deaths occurred in 2013 and two in 2014.

Fetal surveillance was being misused and misinterpreted, and the hospital had taken on births that should not have been deemed low risk.

Ms Hennessy said clinical and governance failings may have contributed to the deaths.

Two families have contacted Maurice Blackburn Lawyers regarding the deaths of their newborn babies.

Principal at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers Dimitra Dubrow told Neil Mitchell she understood the Department of Health had contacted the families.

‘We have been approached by two of the families that have been affected by the news this week,’ she said.

‘What they are telling us…is that they have been contacted by the Department of Health and advised that the circumstances surrounding their baby’s death is being looked into and that the death may have been prevented.

‘You can imagine this would be extremely distressing for these families who have already suffered a painful loss.’

LISTEN: Principal at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers Dimitra Dubrow on 3AW Mornings