Bells toll for aging hospital

LISMORE Base Hospital returned to the dark ages this week after its emergency buzzer system failed and patients were forced to use brass bells when they required assistance from hospital staff.

John Tyndall, whose 65-year-old father was diagnosed with terminal cancer on Thursday and is currently in ward C8, said it was like a scene from Carry-On Hospital.

“The only thing missing was Barbara Windsor,” Mr Tyndall said.

At midday on Thursday nursing staff handed out brass bells to patients in C8, which accommodates about 30, after the system went down.

When patients rang their bells nurses scrambled to try to work out where the ringing was coming from, he said.

“No one knows where to run,” MrTyndall said.

He said hospital staff told him the system had failed because it was old and the hospital could not afford to replace it.

Mr Tyndall said buzzers next topatients’ beds and in the showers were affected.

It is understood the hospital’s emergency system, which alerts staff when a patient has had a cardiac arrest, had also failed this week.

In a second blow, while MrTyndall’s father was having his bowel and lungs scanned for cancer, the CT scan machine broke down.

“It just went bang,” Mr Tyndall said.

Hospital staff told MrTyndall the machine was old and needed replacing.

Mr Tyndall said the condition of the hospital had created extra pressure for the family as they tried to come to terms with their father’s diagnosis.

“It is really distressing,” Mr Tyndall said

The latest chapter in thesaga of the ailing North Coast Area Health Service comes just days after the long awaited Federal Government health reform package.

The centre piece of the plan is a $90 billion Federal funding takeover, with Canberra picking up the tab for 60 per cent of all services, infrastructure and research costs in all public hospitals.

The Rudd plan has been endorsed by local medical professionals.

The Northern Star made several attempts to contact the North Coast Area Health Service after hours last night, however no one was available to respond.

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