Woman dies in ambulance after waiting nine hours outside hospital

·News Reporter
·3-min read

An elderly woman has died in Tasmania after waiting nine hours for a bed in the hospital emergency department.

The patient in her early 70s arrived in an ambulance at Launceston General Hospital around midnight on Friday evening.

With an overcrowded emergency department she was then ‘ramped’ for nine hours before she passed away at 9am on Saturday, still not having been admitted.

Tragically the Health and Community Services Union (HACSU), which represents the Tasmania's paramedics, says the incident is far too familiar.

Launceston General Hospital exterior shot
The woman in her early 70s had waited nine hours for a hospital bed at Launceston General Hospital before she died. Source: Google Maps

“In terms of people being ramped for nine hours or more, that unfortunately is not uncommon,” HACSU Industrial Manager Robbie Moore told Yahoo News Australia.

“It happens all the time because the health system is failing.’

He says it’s the result of an unacceptable flow-on effect through Tasmanian hospitals.

“It happens because basically all the beds in the emergency department are taken up, and it’s usually by patients that are waiting to get to the ward and there are no beds available on the ward, and that’s often due to staffing shortages,” Mr Moore explained.

“Therefore it means emergency departments are overcrowded and not able to see everyone and the ambulances are ramped.

“Basically the system is failing Tasmanians.”

A hospital ward
The Health and Community Services Union says the health system is failing Tasmanians. Source: AAP

A life-saving investment

HACSU is calling on the Tasmanian government to urgently invest in allied health professionals.

“These are people that get people out of hospitals sooner but also prevent people from coming into hospitals,” Mr Moore said.

He adds that investment in nursing and support staff is also desperately needed.

“But to attract more staff, because we have a shortage, they do have to pay competitive wages to the mainland and the reality is that Tasmanian nurses are the lowest paid in the country, as are a lot of allied health professionals,” Mr Moore claimed.

“So the government needs to address that issue if we are fundamentally going to fix our health system.”

National health crisis

The death of the woman in her early 70s in Tasmania comes amid a national healthcare crisis.

In May, two elderly people died in Perth within hours of each other while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

Georgina Wild
Georgina Wild died after suffering a suspected heart attack while she waited for an ambulance to arrive. Source: Nine News

Both are believed to have suffered a heart attack before help arrived.

While just this week a 47-year-old man died on the side of a road in Adelaide.

He’d been behind the wheel when he started experiencing chest pains on Monday afternoon so pulled over and called 000.

The Ambulance Employee Association says a bystander had started CPR but once paramedics arrived 40 minutes after the call he could not be revived.

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