Steve Beddoes.
Steve Beddoes. The Northern Star

Dying to get help

LISMORE man Steve Beddoes has accused Lismore Base Hospital's emergency department of 'not wanting anything to do with you unless you're dying'.

The father of seven said he went to the emergency department recently with a sore arm and was told to go home and make an appointment with his GP.

Mr Beddoes' case comes after the North Coast Area Health Service said it would not refuse any patient treatment, even if it was not an emergency.

But Mr Beddoes, who suspects he has re-torn his bicep muscle after an initial injury 18 months ago, claims he was turned away and is angry he was not treated.

“I was in constant pain, and I didn't mind waiting for four or five hours if there was someone there more urgent than I was,” he said.

“But what really gets me is that you go to hospital thinking you'll get something done, but they turn you away and pretty much say unless you're dying, they want nothing to do with you.”

Mr Beddoes said he was unhappy he now had to pay for a doctor's appointment, plus $160 to get an X-ray and an ultrasound of his arm.

A North Coast Area Health Service spokesperson said the emergency department at Lismore Base Hospital operated on a 24/7 basis and, as is common with other NSW public hospitals, did not refuse treatment to anyone, nor charge for service.

However, as the medical officer and nurse who saw Mr Beddoes were not rostered on when The Northern Star made inquiries to the area health service, the spokesman said 'their recollection of his case cannot be obtained'.

“On occasions clinical staff advise less ill patients they may receive faster attention with a GP, rather than waiting in ED, which must prioritise sicker patients,” the spokesman said.

He said a significant number treated at emergency departments were not 'emergencies' in the accepted sense.

“While lower acuity patients are medically assessed, and may need medical care, the urgency of their condition is not as great as that of the more seriously ill.”

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