31 Jan 2019

Mother who blamed Middlemore Hospital for fracturing baby's arm feared he would be taken

12:31 pm on 31 January 2019

An advocate for the family of a one-month-old baby found with a broken arm at Middlemore Hospital said the mother was closely monitored and told her baby would be taken by Oranga Tamariki.

A mother holds a baby next to a bottle of milk.

Photo: 123RF

The Auckland mother denied she broke her baby's arm and wanted hospital staff to be held to account.

She spent six days at Middlemore, unable to leave, and was questioned by police and Oranga Tamariki about how the injury occurred.

Daniel, who did not want his last name used, had been with the family in the past week and said what he witnessed was appalling.

He had travelled from South Taranaki to Auckland on Monday to assist the family when he heard about their situation on social media.

The baby was admitted to hospital last Wednesday with suspected measles.

Test results came back clear but doctors later discovered the baby had fractured his right arm.

Daniel said the mother, a young Māori woman, was scared, isolated and alone, and he was shocked to see how she was being treated at the hospital.

"Hospital [staff] said Oranga Tamariki were in charge.

"The indication I had been given from the hospital is that she was not going to be keeping the baby, not going to go to the baby's grandparents, and couldn't go to any close family members.

"There was just no information provided, even with senior staff."

He said despite no evidence to indicate the mother had caused the injury, she was closely monitored.

"When we arrived, there were young staff members. They had paperwork in front of them [and] one side was labelled, 'Observation of baby'.

"The other side of the form was all about the family ... on that checklist was: 'Tired? Using the phone? Are the family angry?' There were even things like, 'Are they swearing?'"

In a statement Oranga Tamarki said its focus was always on the safety and wellbeing of children and young people.

The mother claimed on the same day her baby's fracture was diagnosed, Oranga Tamariki told her the baby should be placed in another home.

"That day, Oranga Tamariki came and it was me, my son's father and my sister in the room, and she tried to take my son and place him, even though there's no proof that I did it.

"She said to me that she needs to sort out placement for him that day because he has an unexplained injury."

The mother and her baby were allowed to leave the hospital yesterday afternoon.

Daniel said he and the family were left with no answers.

"The young girl had to leave Auckland then and there. It wasn't just a matter of, 'Oh, look, your family are safe in a free environment [and] your safe to go.' It was very much a, 'You need to get in your car and you need to go all the way down to where the grandparents live now ... and we will be calling you and visiting'."

Middlemore Hospital and the police have declined to comment while investigations are underway.