Sun, Jul 26, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Doctor flees town after child’s death

AFP , SYDNEY

A doctor was evacuated from an Aboriginal community in Australia’s north following the death of a four-year-old girl initially believed to be suffering from swine flu, reports said yesterday.

The child was sent home from the six-bed Doomadgee town hospital three times, despite having a fever and breathing difficulties, before finally being admitted in a serious condition, her family said.

The hospital’s only doctor refused to transfer her to the larger hospital in nearby Mount Isa and she died in her grandmother’s arms late on Thursday, they said, accusing staff of racism.

“If she were a little white child the first day she went to the hospital she would have been flown out to Mount Isa,” her grandfather, Athol Walden, told the Australian newspaper. “Some of them we get here are racist, a lot of the people who work in our community.”

His wife Katrina added: “I think she was neglected because she was a little black girl.”

Test results released yesterday showed she was not suffering from A(H1N1) influenza, and the cause of death would be determined by the coroner, the state’s chief medical officer said.

Police said they had sent reinforcements to the 1,200-person town after angry residents gathered at the hospital, and airlifted the doctor out under armed guard.

“There were worries about public safety and behavior that was worrying for Queensland health staff,” said Ray Pringle, superintendent of Mount Isa police.

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