A Merimbula doctor has said an ambulance took 50 minutes to arrive for a patient with cardiac pain and cites travelling to and from the South East Regional Hospital (SERH) as a cause of the delay.
Dr Frank Simonson said he called the ambulance, which came from Bega, as an emergency after attending the patient at home. The News Weekly confirmed the benchmark time for an ambulance arrival is 16 minutes.
Local paramedic and HSU delegate Chris Branson said the outcome was entirely predictable.
“If you take away emergency services from one end of the shire, the needs don’t go away. Inevitably ambulance crews spend more time at SERH and less time able to respond to the needs of the community.”
Dr Simonson faced further frustration as he tried to phone the hospital to advise the accepting doctor of his patient’s condition when the call went straight through to an answering machine. “Telstra Call Direct had no listing for the new SERH and so I was unable to advise the hospital about my patient.”
A Southern NSW Local Health District spokeswoman said the old telephone number was diverted to SERH, the number was tested and worked yesterday and that information was available on the SERH and Local Health District websites and on Facebook.
Dr Simonson also said while at SERH he spoke with a young woman with a sick nine-month-old baby waiting in the emergency department.
“She had arrived between 6-7pm, but because she had not been seen by 2am she decided to go home and see her own doctor the next day,” Dr Simonson said.
The LHD spokeswoman said SERH records showed no paediatric patients were triaged that night.
“All patients triaged are reviewed by the triage nurse during their wait. Wait times for the SERH emergency department currently meet the state target of 81 per cent for all patients to be treated within four hours,” she said.
“In anticipation of an increase in patient numbers following the opening of SERH, extra medical staff have been rostered to the emergency department and there is an extra doctor at weekends.
“The Bega Valley Health Service Executive is continuing to discuss and review the workload with the doctors.
“Medical staff have reported presentation numbers have settled,” she said.
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