An injured man spent almost 19 hours in the emergency waiting room at a Sydney hospital overnight because there were no available beds, and he was forced to sleep on the cold, hard floor.
Gary, 57, was sent to Blacktown Hospital at around midday on Monday by his GP for a large laceration on his leg, but at 6am on Tuesday morning he was still waiting to be admitted.
"I got here at midday yesterday to have a lacerated leg treated. They've told me I'll have to have minor surgery on it, but it's now 6 in the morning and I'm still here waiting," the frustrated patient told 2GB's radio host Ben Fordham when he phoned in on Tuesday morning.
"I was lying on the tiles because there's no bed. I got my own jumper and folded it up to make a pillow, but then I got a bit cold".
He said there were about 40 people in the overcrowded emergency department waiting room at the time he called, 10 of which had been waiting about 18 to 24 hours. Others have shared their own frustrations with the healthcare system with one branding it "disgraceful".
"When did Australia become a third-world country? Our healthcare system certainly has," one said on Ben Fordham's Facebook post. However, many said it's "nothing new".
One noted it's been "happening for years" in NSW and other Australian states. "It's so common, even here in Tasmania," another said.
Overcrowded emergency rooms a huge problem
In August last year, an elderly woman died after waiting nine hours for a bed in Tasmania. The patient in her early 70s arrived in an ambulance at Launceston General Hospital but due to an overcrowded emergency department, she ended up "ramped" for hours.
Ramping refers to patients being made to wait inside ambulances due to overcrowded emergency rooms, and it's an issue facing hospitals across the country.
Fordham took aim at the state's fractured healthcare system saying, "time is ticking" for NSW Premier Chris Minns to do something. "You can't have someone sleeping on the floor of the emergency department coming up to 19 hours," he said.
Plan to ease the strain on NSW hospitals
Last month, NSW Health Minister Ryan Park said the new government had inherited a troubled healthcare system and would introduce measures to ease the strain, including the hiring of more hospital staff.
"We know patients can suffer when our emergency departments are overcrowded and there are delays in the transfer of care from our paramedics to our hospital clinicians," he said.
The government has already committed $175 million to recruit an additional 1200 nurses by 2027. It will also roll out 25 Urgent Care Services across the state and direct patients to virtual care services to help reduce the numbers arriving at emergency departments.
Health Services Union NSW Secretary Gerard Hayes said with around 12,000 health worker vacancies, attracting more people through better wages and conditions was the best option."The best and fastest way to improve the hospital performance in NSW is by resolving the attraction and retention crisis," Mr Hayes said.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.