There is no doubt that the Hunter and Central Coast health system is experiencing a crisis. Time and time again, I have raised in this House the lack of safe staffing levels, and extensive emergency department and elective surgery wait times, as well as the impacts that the closure of the Calvary Mater GP Access after-hours clinic and the halving of the weekend operating hours of the Belmont Hospital clinic have had on our local community. However, today I will discuss the significant ambulance wait times that Hunter, Central Coast and New South Wales residents are experiencing more broadly.
Only a couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by a constituent who advised me that her mother, Margaret, waited for over eight hours for an ambulance to arrive at her home. Margaret was enduring significant abdominal pain, so her friend called the ambulance, first at 11.20 a.m. After an hour and a half, no ambulance had arrived, so Margaret's friend called 000 again. Around 2.00 p.m. they called again and were told that they were next in line for an ambulance. Four hours had passed and the ambulance still had not arrived. When they called back, they were told that the ambulance was just around the corner and the operator apologised profusely. The ambulance arrived at 6.45 p.m. and Margaret was admitted to Belmont Hospital at 7.45 p.m. Tragically, Margaret passed away within 10 minutes of being admitted to hospital. This experience has been traumatic for Margaret's family and friends. No-one should have to lose a loved one in this way. They want answers as to how this was allowed to occur and action taken so that other families do not have to endure such events.
It distresses me that residents from the Swansea electorate are dying while waiting to get the medical assistance they so desperately need. However, Margaret's case, unfortunately, is not an isolated one. Ambulance wait times have blown out statewide. Just last month, a Sydney man died on an ambulance stretcher after waiting for an hour for a bed in the Concord hospital emergency department. New South Wales has a chronic shortage of hospital beds and health staff shortages, which, mixed with increasing 000 calls, has led to this crisis.
This crisis has been echoed in the Bureau of Health Information's quarterly report for October to December 2021. For priority cases, the median call to ambulance arrival time increased from the year prior, from 12.2 minutes to 14.1 minutes. The New South Wales Liberal-Nationals Government has known about ambulance staffing levels being stretched to breaking point in the Hunter and on the Central Coast for some time. I constantly hear of instances of local ambos being relocated to different stations. For example, I know that many have been relocated from the Belmont station, which is in the Hunter area, down to the Wamberal station, just north of Terrigal, on the Central Coast. I am sure that this issue is occurring across the State. Not only are we seeing paramedics being shuffled from station to station to cover staffing shortages, but also we are seeing ramping occurring at hospitals across the State. We are simply in a health crisis.
Given these dire circumstances, ambos have been doing their best to support the health and wellbeing of our local communities. However, when they are burnt out from working hours on end due to staff issues, do not have the resources to keep up with the increased demand and the Government fails to act on this, patients like Margaret and their loved ones continue to suffer. It is time for the Government to realise the severity of this crisis and the impacts it is having not only on the Swansea community but also on people across the State. I urge the Government to act now by launching an immediate investigation into Margaret's case.
Madam Temporary Speaker, I know that you can personally attest to these shortages we are experiencing across the State, leading to increased ambulance wait times. Unfortunately, last week we were not in a position to debate a very important motion you brought to this House. I commend you for showing such an interest in the health of the people we represent in our electorates. We cannot let Margaret's situation happen to anybody else. We need the Government to act as soon as possible to ensure that people can use our public health system, feel safe and receive the health care they need. I do not want to have to come back here and talk about people dying while waiting for ambulances.