Dr Lance O'Sullivan 'traumatised' by death of abused baby under his care

Dr Lance O'Sullivan shared the story of a two-year-old who died under his care as a result of abuse on The AM Show, explaining why he supports Oranga Tamariki's policy of uplifting children.

The former New Zealander of the Year was on the show to talk about his new plan to provide 200 mobile medical clinics to vulnerable communities.

But attention turned to Oranga Tamariki, due to a planned demonstration at Parliament against the policy of uplifting babies from homes deemed unsafe.

"I have more hope in a Māori system, way more hope, the state proved to be more powerful and controlling and when the state has control over our tamariki it has control over our people," organiser Rihi Te Nana told The AM Show.

Dr O'Sullivan said he's got different views on the situation based on his previous work as a doctor in Northland.

"Children must always be safe and whatever that takes, I have looked after a baby who was murdered during my time I was an emergency doctor in Kaitaia.

"Two-year-old child was killed, murdered by her mother, I spent two hours trying to save her and she died in the CT scanner at Auckland Starship hospital.

"I have been traumatised by that, by child abuse in New Zealand, the first question always has to be the safety of the child."

He said his opinions on Oranga Tararimki may differ from others that have been expressed in the media recently, as he's of the belief the service should be beefed up.

"I think it's a vastly underfunded underresourced service.

"It should have the powers of the police, of the GCSB, of Ministry of Social Development, health and education all rolled into one...

"They need four times the budget than what they've got at the moment, I think if I know of a child that's in an at-risk environment they should be removed as soon as possible."

It's disappointing to see the current abuse the agency is facing, rather than focusing on ensuring the safety of children, Dr O'Sullivan said.

"When I had this child die in Kaitaia two years ago I would have loved to have had a rally, I would love to have had a hui and had all the leading names of Māoridom come along to protest and cry out about the death of another Māori child, there was no such thing.

"I think I would like to see greater effort put into preventing child deaths than attacking an agency that to be honest has been set up to fail."