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'Horrible' way Aussie grandmother, 94, transported to hospital amid crisis

Her furious family have lashed the state's battling healthcare system.

The family of an elderly Adelaide woman who was transported between hospitals in a taxi while she was being treated for a broken pelvis have branded the 94-year-old's care as "horrible".

Helen Watson, broke her pelvis almost two weeks ago and when she was first presented to Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH), and spent two hours stuck in an ambulance in agony waiting for a bed, 9News reports.

Suffering from immense pain, the woman was forced to sit tight amid the city's ramping crisis, which is a well-documented problem across South Australia.

"That's a really long time when you are in a lot of pain, you don't know what's going on and you know, being her age, she's confused by those sorts of things," her granddaughter, Melanie Lavis, said.

Helen Watson in hospital.
Helen Watson, 94, was transported between hospitals in a taxi while receiving care for a broken pelvis. Source: 9News.

'Something has to change'

Ms Lavis said the 94-year-old received good treatment at the RAH, but was shocked after receiving a phone call from her father, notifying her of the way she had later been transported to a second hospital, due to an apparent lack of ambulances.

"Dad called me at about five o'clock yesterday and said that they had moved grandma to Modbury Hospital — and that they had done that in a taxi," she said in frustration.

During the 30 minute journey, Ms Watson was forced to sit upright, without any nurse or carer the entire taxi ride. "In a cab, without a nurse in there, in pain ... it just doesn't sit right," Ms Lavis said.

Health minister denies ambulance shortage to blame

SA Health Minister Chris Picton, who claimed he would look into the matter, said the grandmother was not transported in a taxi due to a lack of ambulances, rather than staff at the RAH did not deem it necessary to use one.

"The report that I've had from SA Health at this stage is that that was a decision made by the clinicians, by the doctors and nurses based on their assessment of the patient," Mr Picton said.

The Royal Adelaide Hospital in South Australia
The Royal Adelaide Hospital in South Australia. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Though Ms Lavis strongly disagreed, claiming that staff were "well aware of the pain" Ms Watson was in, and, she doesn't believe they would have sent her off in a taxi if there was a number sufficient of ambulances available.

"The first time they tried to sit her up a week ago she passed out from the pain," Lavis said. "Obviously, the resources are just so tight that they're making decisions that are wrong. I think it's horrible something has to change."

SA's Shadow Health Minister Ashton Hurn said "people are sick of the excuses".

"South Australians are sick and tired of the excuses," Ms Hurn said. "They want the government to roll up their sleeves and fix what they promised."

Back in June, South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas announced a $67.5 million health package in a bid to reduce ramping. The funding came amid continued calls from the state's paramedics and hospital staff, who had long sounded the alarm over the escalating crisis.

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