Concord Hospital reviews ambulance death after cardiac arrest treated in car park


NSW’s latest hospital report card shows that almost 20 per cent of patients arriving by ambulance to emergency departments between October and December last year failed to be transferred into the care of emergency department staff within 30 minutes. It was the second-worst result for any quarter in the past decade.

Concerns about delays offloading patients has featured as part of the latest industrial negotiations between health unions and the government.

One NSW Ambulance manager, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the situation was “groundhog day with bed block”, which is when hospitals are so clogged with patients they do not have enough beds and ambulances are forced to wait with patients at emergency.

A senior nurse, who has worked at Concord Hospital for a decade and spoke anonymously, said staff were under “extraordinary pressure” due to scarcity of experienced nurses.

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“We live frightened we will end up in a situation where something goes badly wrong. We are sliding towards the edge. I don’t see it turning around at this stage,” the nurse said.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Sydney local health district said the district “expressed its sincere condolences to the family of a man who died”.

“His condition deteriorated and he passed away prior to admission to hospital. The hospital is reviewing the circumstances surrounding the case.”

A spokesperson from NSW Ambulance said that on top of recent waves of COVID-19 stretching services, the community returning to pre-pandemic life had seen “an increase in car accidents, assaults, falls and other activity related call-outs”.

“We need to work with whoever is in government federally to ensure more people who need a doctor end up at a GP rather than in an emergency room,” Mr Hazzard said.

Former secretary of the federal Department of Health, Stephen Duckett, said a deadlock over health funding had left health systems across Australia in crisis, with ambulance ramping worsening as hospitals struggle to admit a surge of unwell patients.

“The Commonwealth should be doing split 50-50 funding for a minimum of the next 18 months,” Duckett said. “But no major party has committed beyond September on a fair funding arrangement.”

The NSW government is in discussions with the Health Services Union, whose members joined work stoppages last month, to boost the number of paramedics employed across NSW.

“COVID-19 has put enormous additional pressure on the ambulance system. NSW has hired an additional 750 paramedics over the past three years. But the reality is pressure continues to build on health systems around in the country,” Hazzard said.

HSU secretary Gerard Hayes said NSW “needs to hire an additional 2000 paramedics to be able to meet demand”.

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