Byron Central Hospital, emergency. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star
Byron Central Hospital, emergency. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star Cathy Adams

'It missed the point': Patient slams hospital investigation

Monday 3.23pm: DEBATE between a stroke patient and the Northern NSW Local Heath District continues to escalate about the adequacy of emergency protocols at Byron Central Hospital.

Coorabell resident Paul Rea said he responded to the health district's letter about the outcome of the investigation into the hospital's decision to not call an ambulance when he arrived at the hospital on March 27.

He said the letter, from the Northern NSW Local Health District CEO Wayne Jones, left him with unanswered questions as to why it was left to his wife to transport him to John Flynn Hospital and not an ambulance. 

In a statement to The Northern Star, Mr Jones addressed some of the concerns Mr Rea expressed in response to the letter.

Mr Jones said the situation wasn't ideal despite Mr Rea being given the green light by medical staff to travel to John Flynn Private Hospital via private transport.

"It is regrettable that the option of being transported by Ambulance was not provided to Mr Rea and his wife," Mr Jones said.

Mr Jones confirmed an ambulance wasn't requested due to medical staff declaring Mr Rea stable enough to travel with his wife by car.

He said it was "not uncommon for clinicians to allow patients to travel privately between hospitals during their treatment" depending on the patient's condition.

However, Mr Jones said the recent review of inter-hospital patient transfer guidelines ruled the prioritisation of transfer by ambulance will be reinforced across the LHD.

After his tumultuous experience, Mr Rea said he wants strokes treated as a medical emergency in the eyes of the health system.

He said the issue isn't about communication but working to resolve "a protocol problem" with ambulance transfers regarding strokes.

 

 

Monday 10.47am: A 'DISMAYED' stroke sufferer has lashed out at the findings of an investigation by the Northern NSW Local Health District about staff at a local hospital recommending his wife drive him to Queensland for treatment.

Coorabell resident Paul Rea was rushed to Byron Central Hospital by his wife on March 27 where he was assessed and told they should drive across the border to John Flynn Hospital.

CEO of the health district, Wayne Jones wrote an apologetic letter to Mr Rea on May 2 about the outcome of the investigation.

After consultation with the district's emergency medical director and other executives, Mr Jones to Mr Rea: "the decision to transport you by private transport was based on your stable condition."

"The assessment determined you were in a stable condition and that the best plan of care would be admission to a specialist stroke bed," Mr Jones said.

Coorabell resident, Paul Rea was suffering a stroke when he was allegedly told he had to drive himself to Queensland for treatment from Byron Central Hospital.
Coorabell resident, Paul Rea was suffering a stroke when he was allegedly told he had to drive himself to Queensland for treatment from Byron Central Hospital. Contributed

Mr Rea hit back at the health district's use of his condition as a justification for his private transport.

" ... the reality was that my condition deteriorated noticeably in the time taken to drive me to John Flynn. On arrival, I could barely get out of my wife's car and barely walk when I did," Mr Rea said.

Mr Jones also informed Mr Rea a review is under way into the district's hospital transfer policy "to ensure all decisions that are made are clearly explained to patients and their carers."

But Mr Rea slammed the review as a "far from adequate response to the issues raised (by his experience)" and that "the investigation missed the point entirely".

"I'm dismayed by this response. It's a whitewash," Mr Rea said.

"Nowhere does Mr Jones address my complaint and the issue of greatest public concern, that is, why was my wife required to drive me to John Flynn hospital after I had entered the health care system suffering a stroke."

Mr Rea criticised Mr Jones and the health district for leaving many of his questions unanswered such as if an ambulance was requested and policies around stroke patient transport.

" I note that he apologises sincerely for my experience at the hands of Byron Bay hospital but nowhere makes clear what it is he is apologising for," Mr Rea said.

"The idea that my complaint derived from a lack of comprehension by my wife and myself is false and highly patronising.

"The point is that we should never have been required to drive ourselves to John Flynn."


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