Lismore Base Hospital is suffering a ‘chronic’ bed shortage, according to doctors, and the condition is expected to worsen over winter.
On Saturday night, a man suffering a heart attack had to be treated on an ambulance trolley owing to a lack of bed space.
At the time of the incident at least seven ambulances were queued outside the hospital waiting to offload patients, potentially causing delays in response times, local media reported.
A new emergency ward is planned in round three upgrades of the hospital but staff say they can’t wait and an urgent solution needs to be found.
Lismore Base hospital medical staff council chairman Dr Chris Ingall said ‘a total bed block’ was likely in coming months.
‘It’s starting to burst at the seams, actually,’ he told ABC radio this morning. As you know, we’re heading into flu season. There’s no capacity in the hospital to deal with any increase in the number of patients. We’re just about stuck.’
Dr Ingall said an emergency medical unit, with its own group of beds, was needed to deal with the problem.
Lismore Base Hospital general manager Wayne Jones told APN Media that $2.95 million had been allocated to develop a seven bed unit when the emergency department is rebuilt.