Lucky... Paul McIntosh could have died waiting for a public hospital bed.
Lucky... Paul McIntosh could have died waiting for a public hospital bed. coffs advocate

Lucky to be alive!

PAUL McIntosh has been labelled by some as a miracle man, but he's one of the lucky ones.

When Mr McIntosh, 51, suffered a stroke in September of last year, it was lucky that he could afford private health care, because if he couldn't, he may have died waiting for a public hospital bed to open in Sydney.

Mr McIntosh was rushed to the emergency department at Coffs Harbour Base Hospital on September 19 last year when he suffered a subarachnoid haemorrhage (stroke).

His condition was life threatening, and after being stabilised at Coffs Harbour Base, he was told he had to be transferred to Sydney in order to get the treatment he needed.

"Coffs Harbour Hospital was great," Mr McIntosh said.

"They did everything they could for me, but they couldn\'t do the surgery I needed or give me the treatment I needed. I was told I needed to be sent to Sydney."

But, after enquiries by Coffs Harbour Base on his behalf, Mr McIntosh was told there were no intensive-care unit beds available publicly in Sydney.

He would have to take a place at a private hospital - or face possible severe brain damage and even death.

"I know that I am one of the luckiest men alive," he said.

"But what about those people that aren't? I've heard the horror stories about the health system, but now that I've experienced it myself, it's a real eye-opener."

"I guess next time I'm going to have a stroke or heart attack, I should ring ahead to make sure it's convenient."

Mr McIntosh is intent on making the Government hear his story, in the hope they review the current system.

"I'm not doing this for me - I'm doing Ok. I'm doing it for the people who have suffered, and died, because of the system. It's not the people in the system - it's the system itself," he said.

"I've written to the health department, the Minister for Health, the Premier, and five senior ministers of the Iemma Government asking for their help - but I've not yet received a response."

He has also put his story before various healthcare inquiries, including Commissioner Garling at the recent special commission of inquiry in Coffs Harbour.

Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon's office has been the only responder thus far.

"Public hospitals are required to ensure that eligible persons are able to access public hospital services free of charge as public patients on the basis of clinical need and within a clinically appropriate waiting period," the response said.

"Allegations that a hospital has refused a patient admission or treatment may give rise to a potential breach of the 2003-2008 Australian Health Care Agreement between the Commonwealth and New South Wales," it continued.

"I'm not giving up - I'll die trying," Mr McIntosh said.

Health Minister Reba Meagherhad not responded at the time of printing.


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