RYAN Brooks has witnessed first-hand the crisis gripping the Hunter’s failing health system.
The 38-year-old suffered what was initially feared a stroke while going for a walk at Merewether Beach last Monday morning.
Completely numb down one-side of his face, unable to see, confused, losing speech and with a pounding headache, it took almost 24 hours before he was admitted to the neurosurgical ward at John Hunter Hospital.
He is now facing weeks in rehabilitation and an uncertain future after being diagnosed with a cavernoma, or vascular brain tumor, bleed.
The father of one said he waited for what felt like an “eternity” for the ambulance to arrive and then spent almost 24 hours waiting in the emergency departments at Calvary Mater Newcastle and John Hunter hospitals.
“I thought I was going to die. I just kept waiting for the lights to go out completely, it was terrifying” Mr Brooks said.
“You hear about the problems with the health system, but I had no idea until now just how under-resourced they are and what difficult circumstances the staff are forced to work in, it’s not right.”
Angry relatives and friends told the Newcastle Herald of their disgust at his agonising ordeal and described the health system as “under-resourced and overwhelmed”.
While praising the medical staff involved, Mr Brooks’s sister Jenelle said it was obvious the “Hunter does not have the bed capacity to cope with the population”.
The case comes amid claims that the Hunter is “critically underfunded” and in need of an urgent injection of beds, staff and funds to cope with surging patient numbers.
Hunter New England Health’s general manager of greater Newcastle acute hospital network Michael Symonds said while waiting for a bed Mr Brooks was “closely monitored” by medical staff.
Family friend Judy James said she was “astounded” by the lack of health facilities in the state’s second biggest city.
“This happened at Merewether, in the centre of Newcastle, it’s really hard to believe,” she said.