A Current Affair host Ally Langdon has grilled the Queensland health minister and Ambulance Commissioner after a mother died waiting for an ambulance to come.
Cath Groom called paramedics just before 10.30pm on Friday after experiencing chest pains, but she was left waiting for more than an hour and a half for paramedics to arrive.
The delay occurred despite Ms Groom’s condition being deemed an urgent code one, meaning she should have been treated within 15 minutes.
She died the day before her 52nd birthday and is believed to have been discovered by her teenage son Nicholas.
Queensland Health Minister Shannon Fentiman appeared on A Current Affair on Tuesday night to respond to criticism over the incident and quickly admitted the incident was “unacceptable”.
“You say you didn’t get there in a quick and timely manner, it should have arrived within 15 minutes, 90 minutes later there was still nothing. Is that good enough?” host Ally Langdon asked.
“It is not good enough,” Ms Fentiman replied.
A full review of the incident is being undertaken by the Queensland Ambulance Service with the help of Ms Groom’s family.
QAS Commissioner Craig Emery said the ambulance service “should have done better” and said “there are no excuses”.
When asked if he thought there was “a serious problem” with the service he oversees, he spoke only to the particular case at hand.
“With this case in particular, we should have responded to that lady much more quickly,” he said.
“Most people get their ambulance on average within eight point five minutes, that doesn’t make any difference in these circumstances.”
He went on to add that the ambulance service was not understaffed at the time of the incident but was experiencing a surge in demand.
The friends and family of Ms Groom took to social media to pay tribute to the “amazing mother” and to express their “deepest shock, grief and sadness” at the news.
“She was and will always be my favourite human on this earth, I loved her to bits we were like a brother and sister I’m going to be lost without her,” one person wrote.
“What an absolute shock. Such a beautiful girl taken way too soon,” another said.
Ms Groom had been left to raise her son on her own after her husband died when the boy was just a baby.
“Rest In Peace Sis, may you rest easy now with Dad and your life’s love and husband Warren,” her sister wrote on social media.
The shock death has renewed calls for the Queensland and federal government to address ambulance delays, with Australian Medical Association Queensland president Dr Maria Boulton saying the state’s healthcare system is “not good enough”.
“This is what happens because the system is under such strain, we know that our healthcare workers do the best they can in a system that is completely broken,” she told the Today Show.
“This is not on them but it also affects them because they don’t want to lose any lives.”
She welcomed the Palaszczuk government’s funding for 2500 new hospital beds, but called for more to be done.
“These are changes that should have been made a long time ago – we also need for the federal government to step up,” she said. “We need increased funding, we need to go back to the 50-50 split funding that we had during COVID and for Queensland that would mean an immediate $1.5 billion to support our ED staff to support our paramedics.”
Offering their “thoughts and condolences” to Ms Groom’s loved ones, Queensland Ambulance Services have said they will conduct a review into how Ms Groom’s case went from a priority to being pushed back in the queue.
“QAS is undertaking a comprehensive review of the clinical and operational aspects of this case as well as referring to the coroner,” the spokesman said.
“The service is engaged with the family and will continue to keep them updated throughout the process of the review.”
Ms Groom’s shock death comes just days after another Queensland man died while waiting in an ambulance outside Ipswich Hospital for three hours.
Wayne Irving, 67, called an ambulance to his home in Coulson, 80km south west of Brisbane at approximately 7:30pm on Thursday.
Despite paramedics arriving 30 minutes later, Mr Irving was forced to wait outside the hospital for hours before his condition worsened.
He suffered a cardiac arrest and died a short time later.