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

Claims man having stroke had to drive himself to QLD

NSW Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord has demanded NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard launch an independent external investigation into ambulance staffing levels on the North Coast and whether the new Byron Central Hospital is being properly resourced and staffed - with reports a man having a stroke was forced to drive to Queensland for treatment.

Mr Secord said Coorabell resident, Mr Paul Rea was forced to drive to QLD for treatment after Byron Central Hospital were unable to secure an ambulance.

It was the second major incident at Byron Central Hospital - where patients could not be treated and had to be sent to Queensland - after lengthy delays, Mr Secord said.

Mr Secord said he was "alarmed and disturbed" by the growing list of recent patient failures at Byron Central Hospital and involving the NSW Ambulance Service on the North Coast.

"Clearly, North Coast patients are being let down by the State Liberal-National Government," Mr Secord said.

"It is simply downright ludicrous that a NSW hospital was unable to treat a stroke victim.

"Serious questions need to be answered about whether Byron Central Hospital and the NSW Ambulance Service are being properly resourced on the North Coast.

"It seems like another day, another patient at Byron Central Hospital is unable to be properly treated and they had to be transferred to Queensland.

"Earlier this year, we saw the horrific incident where a woman with a bowel obstruction had to wait hours and now we see a patient with a stroke - who was unable to be treated at the hospital - and had to get his wife to take him to a Queensland hospital because an ambulance was unavailable.

"There is little point in spending millions to build a brand new hospital, and then fail to properly resource that hospital. It doesn't make sense.

"The drive from Coorabell to Byron Bay Central Hospital is 17 kilometres and from Byron Central Hospital to John Flynn Private Hospital is another 73 kilometres; all up that is 90 kilometres; that is an incredible distance for someone having a stroke to travel.

"In an emergency situation like a stroke, every minute counts and we know every delay results in permanent injury and a longer recovery.

"While the Byron Central Hospital was officially opened in May 2016 with much fanfare by the Nationals and the Health Minister, the community has only seen a reduction in health care in the community."