By Colin MacGillivray
Outgoing Euroa member Steph Ryan has highlighted in the Victorian Parliament the case of a Kilmore man who has waited more than two hours for an ambulance despite showing signs of a heart attack.
Earlier this year, Max Perry presented to Kilmore District Health with symptoms of a heart attack and was told he would need an ambulance to a Melbourne hospital.
Mr Perry waited two hours for an ambulance to arrive from Woodend as there were no ambulances available in the nearby towns.
Arriving in the ambulance, Mr Perry was told there were no beds available in any public hospital and he was transported to Melbourne Private Hospital – a journey of more than 70 kilometres.
During Question Time earlier this month, Ms Ryan raised Mr Perry’s case with Health Secretary Mary-Anne Thomas.
“How is it acceptable to the Minister that a Victorian suffering from a heart attack has to wait two hours for an ambulance to arrive because resources are so scarce?” she said.
“Mr Perry had to use his private health insurance to get a bed at Melbourne Private Hospital in the city centre.
“How come there are no public hospital beds available for a Victorian suffering a heart attack?”
In response, Ms Thomas said Ambulance Victoria would work to prioritize cases like Mr Perry’s.
“Any decision made will be in Mr Perry’s best interests and seek to get him the service he needs as quickly as possible,” she said.
“Our healthcare system has been under unprecedented pressure and it is being witnessed not just here in Victoria but across the country and indeed around the world.
“Every day our healthcare workers, our paramedics, our emergency physicians, our critical care nurses and our cardiologists work to provide the best possible and timely care.
“They would always have worked in Mr Perry’s best interests to get him the health care he needed.”
A Department of Health spokesman said Ambulance Victoria is prioritizing ambulances for people facing life-threatening health emergencies.
They said that as Mr Perry is in stable condition at Kilmore District Health he is not high on the priority list.
They said assigning patients to private hospitals, when appropriate, is part of the state government’s strategy to manage overall hospital capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Like healthcare systems across the country we continue to see record demand for services – that’s why we’re investing billions in the system and opening new dispensaries, including in Broadford near Kilmore, so Victorians can get the care they need, when they need it.” , they said.
“We always aim to provide Victorians with the care and treatment they need close to home, but where this is not possible transfer arrangements are made as soon as possible.
“Patients with the most pressing needs are always prioritized and we thank all Victorians for their patience and understanding as we make the critical investments to get the system back on track – putting more paramedics on the road, more Triple Zero -Taking calls, expanding and modernizing our hospitals, and training and hiring up to 7,000 additional healthcare professionals.”