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Sunday, 26 July 2009

Staff at Currimundi Special School on the Sunshine Coast have voiced their frustration at the lack of information about the death of 13-year-old student Cameron Todd, who died last Monday. I asked similar questions last Sunday on this blog.

A staff member at a Sunshine Coast high school said many parents had phoned after learning of the death of a boy, 13, wanting to know if the student attended their child's school.

The staff member said the school was frustrated with EQ after it refused to release details of the case, citing privacy concerns.

An EQ spokesman said under the Protect Phase, QH was no longer routinely following up all confirmed cases of the disease.

"The protect phase recognised that Human Swine Influenza was not as severe for the general population as originally envisaged," he said.

"Most people are making a rapid and full recovery."

But the Parents and Citizens Council of Queensland says that rather than relying on government guidelines, school principals should be charged with deciding whether to release details of cases of swine flu at their schools to parents.

Cameron’s mother, Gold Coast nurse Rebecca Casey, now wants to know why parents weren’t information about the disease earlier.

"They (authorities) are obviously not doing enough. He got it. He wasn't taking risks with his health. He was so well looked after. It's really serious and people have got to start taking it seriously.

Cameron was evidently staying with Anna Miletic on the Sunshine Coast so that her son could attend the Currimundi Special School, where Miletic’s own son is also enrolled.

Miletic also wants answers from authorities.

Mrs Miletic said she was disgusted Queensland Health did not advise Currimundi Special School officials that Cameron Todd, who died last Monday, had contracted swine flu.

“It’s unbelievable. It’s criminal negligence,” she said.

“I was horrified and terrified when I read in the paper the child that died from swine flu was a student at the Currimundi Special School.

“What happens if another kid gets it? Someone has to be held responsible.

“This shows a total disregard and a breach of duty of care to the health of Sunshine Coast residents, especially the kids attending the school.

“All the kids at the school are considered in the high risk category of catching swine flu.”

Mrs Miletic said the oversight by health officials made her “mind boggle”.

In another Sunshine Coast Daily story yesterday, titled ‘Flu victim’s family requests privacy’, no words from Cameron’s family requesting privacy are found. A Queensland Health official says that details of the boy’s underlying health condition, which contributed to his death, were not released due to privacy laws.

Yesterday Kevin Hegarty, chief executive officer of the Sunshine Coast-Wide Bay health district, said the boy did have an “array of other complex health issues”, but would not confirm the teen suffered from cerebral palsy.

Nor would Mr Hegarty release the name of the boy’s school to “ensure the family’s privacy”.

“The boy’s medical history is protected under legislation,” he said.

“He was admitted to the Nambour General Hospital several days before he passed away.

“Our sympathy goes out to his family, who are managing their son’s death as they see fit.”

Clearly the government has a case to answer in terms of informing the public about health liabilities associated with swine flu deaths. Cameron’s mother, a clinical nurse, was not aware of the dangers to her son, and never imagined he would be struck down.

Ms Casey said she is a clinical nurse and worked in the community and thought swine flu was a "beat-up".

"When they said it (was swine flu), I was dumbfounded. Had he not have gotten it he would still be here," she said.

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