Hospitals turn away covid patients

By | August 25, 2021

Paramedics are being turned away by hospitals despite having patients on-board, as the health system strains under the Delta outbreak.

Two major hospitals in western Sydney have been turning coronavirus patients away due to bed shortages.

Paramedics say the city’s healthcare system is buckling under the Delta outbreak, with ambulances forced to drive to multiple hospitals or wait for hours before patients are admitted.

Blacktown Hospital on Wednesday afternoon stopped accepting Covid-19 patients, joining Westmead Hospital which the day before had entered “emergency operations”.

It’s understood the pause on accepting Covid-19 patients was to better prepare the hospitals to handle the demand.

There are 643 patients in hospital with Covid-19 in NSW, 113 of whom are in ICU, according to federal government data.

Alan O’Riordan, assistant secretary of the Australian Paramedics Association’s NSW branch, said ambulances had been turned away at other hospitals including Concord, the Royal Prince Alfred and Canterbury.

“It’s making more delays. We’re then having to move the patients further afield,” he said.

“If your ambulance system has slowed down to a snail’s pace and can’t respond to an every day emergency then there is a risk to patients.”

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said on Wednesday morning that NSW had “probably the best health system in the world”, which had been working to prepare for a major outbreak since early in 2020.

He said there was no question the health system was under pressure but denied it was overwhelmed.

But Mr O’Riordan disputed this, saying the rapidly changing nature of the pandemic meant paramedics were struggling to get clear information from hospitals.

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“As much as Minister Hazzard and the premier say the hospitals are coping, they’re not … I think we proactively need to manage the bed crisis now.”

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