According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the two women were dating while they worked at a psychiatric ward at Cumberland Hospital in Sydney’s west, and died within weeks of each other in 2020.
In December that year, SafeWork issued Cumberland Hospital with three improvement notices relating to the case, and continued to investigate it. It filed a criminal case against Western Sydney Local Health District in November 2022.
According to a charge sheet lodged with the NSW District Court, the district is alleged to have failed in its duty of care over the two nurses under work health and safety legislation.
Friends of the two deceased nurses told SMH that the reason for the women’s deaths has been shrouded in secrecy.
In fact, the details around the case are so sparse because of a confidentiality agreement between the Western Sydney Local Health District and SafeWork, who is prosecuting.
The Sydney Morning Herald has filed a bid to make the court documents public, which it reported the Western Sydney Local Health District’s lawyer said will be opposed.
Multiple sources (including NSW Health employees) who SMH says spoke to under the condition of anonymity claimed the women had been stood down shortly before their deaths.
The women alleged they believed they had been fired due to their relationship, according to sources. They also felt they had been blamed for fake entries in a medication log book.
“She believed they were being discriminated against,” a NSW Health employee told the publication.
“They had found some discrepancies in [the log] and she said they were being blamed for it but that she didn’t do it.”
During a hearing on Monday, Judge Andrew Scotting confirmed the criminal case against NSW Health involves the two nurses, reports SMH.
However, it’s not confirmed if the case involves the allegations around the suspension.
The Western Sydney Local Health District refused to comment when approached by SMH. It will enter a plea in August.