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Grandmother Anna Bove, 79, experienced the effects first-hand when she was forced to wait six hours for care at the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital yesterday after collapsing and hitting her head.
“Just the fact that it was a head trauma and she waited that long. I can’t fathom that,” her daughter Marissa Gulluni told 9News.
“It was just like a car crash. Something needs to be done about this health system.”
For the first time in its history St John WA issued a public alert on Monday warning of delays in responses to triple zero calls.
The alert lasted from 4.30pm until 5.30am on Tuesday, with one in four ambulances ramped outside overwhelmed hospitals.
Some patients were forced to wait six hours or more for hospital care.
St John WA CEO Michelle Fyfe apologised for the delays.
She said the whole health system was under pressure but didn’t directly provide a reason for it.
Premier Mark McGowan said the coronavirus was to blame.
About 2500 hospital workers have been off work after testing positive to COVID-19 or from being a close contact.
But Dr Peter Allely from the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine said chronic under-investment was to blame, a problem he said existed well before the virus came onto the scene.
“More people will be dying of overcrowding than COVID this year I would imagine in WA health system,” Dr Allely said.
Cherrile Quilty from Geraldton in the state’s mid-west region also endured the impacts of the ambulance delays.
Quilty suffered a heart attack and was forced to wait two days for an airlift to Perth for urgent testing.
Two flights had already been taken up by patients considered to be more pressing at the time.
Once a flight was finally able to take her, the city’s ambulance were too busy to transport her to the tarmac.
Fyfe said “we need to be able to clear our ambulances as quickly as possible from hospitals to be able to get them back out there, on the front line.”