‘Starving, extreme pain’: Young mum’s ‘inhumane’ treatment at Queensland hospital laid bare

The joys of government healthcare.  I once had a similar painful problem: kidney stones.  I took a taxi to my usual private hospital and was on the operating table within hours.  The woman below could have got similar treatment if Queensland Health fired some of its many bureaucrats and redirected the funds into employing more doctors and nurses

A young mother awaiting a “simple” one-hour operation was left starving and in pain for four days, forcing her GP to take the extraordinary step of writing to health bosses to intervene.

Frustrated Townsville GP Alan Wallace claimed the mother-of-four, who he referred to as Jessica, was suffering badly but had not undergone the surgery she needed because she kept getting bumped down the list by emergency cases.

In the open letter sent to the Townsville Hospital on Friday addressed to the Premier and Health Minister, Dr Wallace wrote Jessica had a gallstone stuck in her common bile duct – an “extremely painful” condition known as choledocholithiasis.

Dr Wallace said Jessica had been at the hospital since Sunday and was on high doses of morphine-like drugs for her pain and antibiotics to ward off potentially deadly infection.

She had not been allowed to eat since Monday when the operation was first scheduled, only to be repeatedly cancelled, Dr Wallace said.

“She is starving now,” he wrote in the letter on Friday morning.

“She has been on highly-addictive pain killing drugs for nearly a week. Premier, Minister, you must agree that what is happening to Jessica is inhuman.

“It is not what this young woman deserves. “It is not what Queenslanders expect.

“She is but a single example of a phenomenon which happens many times in hospitals all over Queensland every week of every year.”

Dr Wallace said the woman had made it to the operating theatre on Thursday but her proposed theatre was taken by an emergency case.

“The theatre staff apologised and promised that her operation would be done straight after,” he wrote.

Dr Wallace said Jessica had four young children at home, and her partner was struggling to cope.  Her family lived in Tasmania.

“She texted me in her anguish. She wanted to discharge herself,” he said.

“This is not the fault of the staff of Townsville Hospital, or indeed of anyone who lives within a thousand kilometres of Townsville.

“The reason for Jessica’s plight is not clinical incompetence, it is lack of political will.

“Premier, Minister, I beg of you. Adjust your priorities. Adequately resource our health system.”

Dr Wallace said Jessica finally had the surgery on Friday morning, only hours after he sent a copy of the letter to Townsville Hospital and the media.

He told The Courier-Mail he believed she would still be waiting for the operation had he not written the letter, and her plight was “symptomatic of a sick health system”

“Something has to be done for the other poor buggers who don’t have anyone to stand up for them,” he said.

“Townsville Hospital doesn’t have enough operating theatres and they’re run on skeleton staff.”



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