Babies were potentially exposed to serious health risks when a NSW hospital mix-up saw newborns given to the wrong mothers to breastfeed.
The Daily Telegraph reports that at least seven babies were affected by the incidents, which occurred in public hospitals between 2011 and 2015. The NSW government have admitted that more babies could have been impacted because it does not have records for the private system.
Opposition Health Spokesman Walt Secord called the situation “every new mum’s worst nightmare” and called on the government to release the names of the hospital’s responsible.
“The community has a right to know. This is the human cost of the massive cuts to the health and hospital system,” he said.
Western Sydney University Professor of midwifery Hannah Dahlen said the risk of diseases being transmitted through breastmilk was low but the psychological impact cold be significant.
“It can be everything from ‘oh my God, I was feeling connected and attached to this child that wasn’t mine, what kinds of mother am I?,'” Professor Dahlen said.
Health Minister Jillian Skinner said it was “extremely rare” for a baby to be handed to the wrong mother, with almost 100,000 babies born in NSW hospitals each year.
She said in each case the error was “soon discovered”.
Stefanie Phillips, 22, of Bateau Bay was stunned when her newborn daughter Ellie was mistakenly given to another mother to breastfeed in Gosford Hospital last year.
“It really does shock me,” she said.
“I think the lack of midwives is really the problem … if they are short-staffed the government has to do something about it.
“It hit me afterwards. It tore me up.
“I would not want this to happen to another mother, especially a first-time mother.”
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