Operation cancelled due to bed shortage

Headshot of Pierra Willix
Pierra WillixSound Telegraph
Email Pierra Willix
Fiona Stanley Hospital.
Camera IconFiona Stanley Hospital. Credit: WA News

Bed shortages at a major Perth hospital have been brought into focus after a Port Kennedy man scheduled for open-heart surgery had his operation cancelled at the last minute after being told there were not enough beds to accommodate him.

David Valentine needs to have the aortic valve in his heart replaced, and was scheduled in for the operation at Fiona Stanley Hospital last Monday.

In preparation for the surgery, he stopped taking his blood thinner and blood pressure medications three days in advance and also ceased taking anti-rejection medication for his kidney, which was replaced several years ago.

His wife Margaret told the Sound Telegraph they arrived at Fiona Stanley at 8am and were told an hour later that despite David being the second person on the surgery schedule, they had a “lengthy wait ahead”.

About 10.30am, Mr Valentine was taken through to admissions where he was prepared for surgery, had his chest shaved, and blood and urine samples taken, but more than an hour later was advised the surgery would not be going ahead.

“A surgical nurse came in and apologised and told us there were no beds available in the ICU unit and that the operation had to be cancelled,” Mrs Valentine said.

To make matters worse, this was not the first time Mr Valentine had been affected by a bed shortage after he was previously forced to spend a night sleeping in a gym room at Fiona Stanley last year, with no toilet or shower. “To say we were upset and angry is not the word. On top of this, we had an $18 parking fee to pay,” Mrs Valentine said.

“For a supposedly world-class hospital, it leaves a lot to be desired. It is lacking in many quarters, especially in beds.”

A Fiona Stanley Hospital spokeswoman said cancelling surgery only occurred as a “last resort”. “In most situations, Fiona Stanley Hospital is able to accommodate planned surgical activity and it is rare for a patient’s procedures to be cancelled,” she said.

The spokeswoman said bed availability could vary on an hourly basis and was influenced by various factors “often outside the hospital’s control such as emergency demand and current ICU patients’ medical condition/status”.

The Valentines had to wait four days until they were contacted by the hospital to reschedule the surgery.

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