An image of an 84-year-old woman forced to lie on the floor of a hospital has sparked outrage.
An image of an 84-year-old woman forced to lie on the floor of a hospital has sparked outrage.

Picture that’s shocking Australians

AN IMAGE of an unwell elderly woman who was forced to lie on the floor of a hospital due to a bed shortage has sparked outrage online.

Neil MacLachlan shared a photograph to Facebook of his 84-year-old mother wrapped in blankets and huddled in the doorway of Geraldton Regional Hospital in Western Australia on Thursday.

The woman was taken by ambulance to the hospital suffering acute kidney pain and was in too much discomfort to sit in a chair, Mr MacLachlan said.

When he asked for a bed, Mr MacLachlan was told there were none available and was offered some blankets and a pillow instead.

"She was very grateful to be on that floor," he told ABC News.

It was two hours until a spare bed in a nearby corridor was located, which Mr MacLachlan described on Facebook as "disgraceful".

 

An image of an 84-year-old woman forced to lie on the floor of a hospital has sparked outrage.
An image of an 84-year-old woman forced to lie on the floor of a hospital has sparked outrage.

 

"We are not impatient people (but) they could have at least offered her a bed because that was what her immediate need was," he said to ABC.

His mother's pain was so extreme that she was doubled over when trying to sit in a chair initially, and she would have fallen out had he not been standing in front of her.

"They don't need trained medical professionals to set up a cot or assist an aged person into a bed," he wrote on Facebook.

"Luckily there wasn't two hours worth of life-threatening cases ahead of her as she may have had to spend the night on the floor."

The woman, who declined to be named, spoke to ABC and said she would not make a formal complaint but hoped her plight sent a message to authorities.

In a post on Facebook yesterday, WA Health Minister Roger Cook said the situation was "unacceptable"

 

Health Minister Roger Cook said he spoke to the woman and apologised, and has asked authorities to investigate the matter. Picture: Colin Murty
Health Minister Roger Cook said he spoke to the woman and apologised, and has asked authorities to investigate the matter. Picture: Colin Murty

 

"I have just spoken with your mother on the phone and apologised unreservedly as Minister for Health," he wrote to Mr MacLachlan.

"I have requested an urgent meeting on this matter with the acting director general of Health and the chief executive of the WA Country Health Service to find out what happened and to ensure it doesn't happen again."

Mr Cook said the government had committed $73 million to upgrade Geraldton Regional Hospital but construction is not expected to begin until 2020.

Last year, the hospital was placed in 'code yellow', indicating a severe shortage of beds, on five occasions, forcing the postponement of 400 elective surgeries.


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