A READER who waited hours at Ballarat Health Services Base Hospital and left without seeing a doctor has called for improvements to emergency department waiting times.
You might remember Sebastopol resident Clive Norton, who became a “dead man walking” in 2009 after the Ballarat Base Hospital advised Centrelink he had died.
Mr Norton is still kicking, but he does get heart pain from time-to-time and when that happens, he calls an ambulance.
He tells Readers’ Champ there were up to 40 people in the waiting room during a recent trip to the hospital.
“I got up after three to four hours and asked if anyone was going to see me,” he said.
Mr Norton said he waited a bit longer, then went to reception and asked them to call him a cab home.
“The taxi driver told me there are a number of people he had taken who gave up hope waiting,” he said.
Mr Norton has had a heart bypass and said he called an ambulance because he was experiencing sharp pains. He said the pain continued while he sat in the waiting room.
“I’ve been to the Base Hospital a fair few times and I’m getting sick and tired of going there and waiting five to six hours,” he said.
“I’ve got no choice. I’ve got nowhere else to go.”
Ballarat Health Services chief executive officer, Andrew Rowe, said the emergency department functioned very well and Mr Norton’s claims were an exaggeration.
“We have checked our records and Mr Norton’s assertion that he waited five hours is patently incorrect and consequently it is disappointing that this claim has been made,” Mr Rowe said.
Readers’ Champ understands that according to hospital records, Mr Norton waited a little over two-and-a-half hours.
Mr Rowe said patients were seen according to the urgency of their situation.
“All patients who attend the BHS emergency department are assessed by an experienced nurse who determines how urgently a patient needs to be seen by a doctor,” Mr Rowe said. “This process, which occurs at all emergency departments across Australia, is called triage.
“We owe it to the community to prioritise patients to ensure that those patients with the most urgent needs are treated first. The community would expect this of us.
“During peak demand periods, people with less urgent needs may have to wait longer to be seen by a doctor.”
That explanation is unlikely to satisfy Mr Norton though, who says the government should be doing more to reduce waiting times.