Lynnette Foster was forced to drive her husband Warren to Hervey Bay Hospital after he was involved in a chainsaw accident.
Lynnette Foster was forced to drive her husband Warren to Hervey Bay Hospital after he was involved in a chainsaw accident. Megan Pope

Is care priceless?

YENGARIE man Warren Foster is questioning the dollar value of human life, after he was denied an expensive ambulance transfer following a chainsaw accident.

Mr Foster was cutting firewood on February 3 when the chainsaw kicked back and sliced through the tendons on both sides of his wrist.

In shock, he tried to grab the still-moving blades with his other hand.

A neighbour jumped the fence to bandage his wounds with towels before her boyfriend called 000.

Because Mr Foster is on blood-thinner Warfarin, he was at a higher risk of dangerous bleeding.

The ambulance took 28 minutes to appear, after his case was given a Code 2 non-urgent priority.

"I was lying there covered in blood, and had bull ants biting me," Mr Foster said.

On arrival at the Maryborough Hospital, nurses re-bandaged his wounds and told him he needed to go to Hervey Bay hospital for urgent surgery.

He was told it would be four to five hours before an ambulance could take him, and the hospital staff asked if his wife Lynnette could drive him instead.

"They told me, don't drive over any bumps and don't let him bump himself in case he start bleeding again," Mrs Foster said.

A Department of Community Safety spokesperson said the Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) did not receive a request from Queensland Health to transfer Mr Foster.

Mr Foster believes no ambulance request was made because it would have been expensive to transfer him.

That cost according to QAS can be as high as $800 for an acute case.

"There is a big problem with the system that they put my life at risk to save money," he said.

Member for Maryborough Chris Foley said Mr Foster's situation was a symptom of a cash-strapped health system.

"This is what happens when they try to run Queensland Health as a business model - it's all about saving money," Mr Foley said.

Wide Bay Health Service District director of medical services Dr Tim Smart said Queensland Health always used emergency transport if patients required urgent care at another facility.

"Allowing patients to be privately transported between facilities is only considered when suitability qualified clinical staff have determined that it is safe to do so, and when patients are comfortable doing so," Dr Smart said.



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