Five suspicious deaths at Australia aged care facility probed

The Australian newspaper said authorities were investigating 30 deaths going back to the opening in August 2016 of the Carinity Fairfield Grange home in the northern city of Townsville

A doctor has been reported to health authorities and three nurses fired over the suspicious deaths of five people at a Baptist-run aged care facility in Australia, authorities said Thursday.

The dead were palliative care patients at the Carinity Fairfield Grange home in the northern city of Townsville, with their demise being investigated by police, the coroner and regulators who were tipped off by a concerned staff member.

The Australian newspaper, which broke the story, said that 30 deaths in total going back to the facility?s opening in August 2016 were under investigation.

It said that lethal doses of morphine and the sedative midazolam were allegedly administered to at least one of the residents who was in relatively good physical health.

Carinity chief executive Jon Campbell said the nurses were acting under the instruction of the doctor, and reassured residents they were now safe.

"As soon as we became aware of the breach of procedure on November 21, the staff concerned were removed from the workplace and the matter was reported to the relevant authorities," he said in a statement.

"We are deeply saddened by these events and extend our sincere sympathies to the families affected. We have met with those families who have been offered pastoral care and counselling support."

Campbell said the matter was now before police and the coroner and "we are fully cooperating with their investigations".