POISON CHARGE: Detectives allege woman drugged girl in hospital

INVESTIGATORS are awaiting tests to confirm what substance caused a seven-year-old girl to lose consciousness after she was allegedly poisoned by a woman in a Newcastle hospital, police said.

Detectives from the NSW child abuse squad alleged that the woman, 33, administered a substance, believed to be a sedative, to the girl at least four times on Friday afternoon.

The girl lost consciousness and was rushed to an intensive care unit on Friday afternoon, but her condition was described yesterday as stable.

The acting commander of the state’s child abuse squad, Detective Superintendent Peter Yeomans, would not say which hospital the incident occurred in, but he did confirm that the accused was ‘‘known to the victim’’ and was not a hospital employee.

A spokeswoman for Hunter New England Health declined to comment saying that the incident was now a police matter.

The accused was arrested on Friday and was taken to Waratah police station where she was charged with using poison to endanger life, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment.

She was also charged with two counts of common assault.

Police alleged that the woman hit the girl in the face on two  occasions in May.

Detective Yeomans said both the girl and the accused were from the Central Coast and that the girl suffered a number of health issues.

‘‘This [incident] is a terrible thing for the family,’’ he said.

The accused faced a Newcastle court on Saturday where she was granted bail to face court again next week.

Detective Yeomans said the investigation was intense and exhaustive and would  continue.

The child abuse squad is comprised of detectives who are specially trained to investigate crimes against children, including sexual assault, physical and emotional abuse and serious cases of neglect.

The squad works in partnership with the Department of Family and Community Services and NSW Health. Anyone with information about the incident should contact Crime Stoppers.