If you needed a more terrifying indicator of exactly what ‘letting the virus rip’ looks like, look no further than the ordeal of a Sydney couple who were forced to drive their unresponsive premature baby to a hospital after no ambulances were available to help them.
New dad Alex Moir shared the story on his Instagram page, directly calling out the Prime Minister, the NSW Premier, the NSW Health Minister and the Liberal Government.
Sharing a photo of his child, Ethan, who was born on Sunday, 2 January, Moir wrote that the baby “nearly died because of your incompetence”.
“You have had two years to bolster health services, to prepare for the worst and expect to be overwhelmed. Two years to prepare before this child ever existed.
“And yet, when we called 000 at 6am on Sunday morning after Ethan was unexpectedly born on our bathroom floor and wasn’t breathing or moving, we were told there were no ambulances available to dispatch and the wait time was unknown”.
It’s every new parent’s worst nightmare and one that belies just how overstretched our healthcare systems are at the minute.
Moir writes how he was forced to strap his wife Melanie into their car and race to the nearest hospital while Ethan lay lifeless in her arms.
“Thanks to the incredible Midwives, Nurses and Doctors at The Royal Hospital for Women in Randwick, our Ethan has made a full recovery after a week in NICU,” he wrote.
Melanie, it just so happens, is a trained midwife who was not only able to deliver her own child unexpectedly on their bathroom floor but able to keep the tiny baby alive right after giving birth as they drove to the hospital.
“She is a hero like so many mothers, but what if she wasn’t a trained medical professional? What if we were ordinary people reliant on health services? We were told that if we had of waited for an ambulance, our Ethan might have died,” Alex writes.
Alex notes that, while his child’s own death would have not been recorded as a COVID-related death, the toll on the healthcare system brought about by the disease would have been the cause. It speaks to the unnumbered people who have had elective surgeries cancelled or pushed back while overall health treatment declines for non-COVID patients as the system is forced to deal with the excess strain of the virus.
A study published in May of last year in the British Medical Journal has sought to establish how many additional people might have died as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, finding that almost 1 million excess deaths were recorded in 2020 across 29 countries.
Interestingly, this data did not include information from Australia, which had not submitted that information at the time of publication.
While this paper does not examine the causes of death, merely showing that they appear to climb in line with COVID waves in various countries, they suggest that the true cost of the pandemic on public health could be far higher.
Another paper, published in October last year, does attempt to look at the causes of these excess deaths, finding that while some may be due to unreported COVID cases, many more are due to lack of resources in the medical system.
Excess deaths have been found to be caused by delayed cancer treatments, a lack of beds and medical supplies, as well as patients not accessing healthcare, even when treatment was available.
NSW Ambulance services have issued an apology to the Moir family for “any distress this situation has caused” and has said that they will review the case, the findings of which will be passed onto the Moirs.
A spokesperson for NSW Ambulance has said that the service is experiencing “unprecedented demand,” peaking on 1 January with 5,120 calls made.
The NSW Premier, Dominic Perrottet has previously acknowledged that the health system is under “pressure,” with new rules introduced in the state to limit the impact on hospitals.
Alex and Melanie however, remain furious at the government.
“I’m disappointed at myself that it took this experience to be exposed to how utterly cruel your incompetence is,” Alex wrote.
“The hospital staff are the most inspiring individuals I’ve had the privilege of meeting, but everyday we overheard conversations about how they are overworked, understaffed, and undersupplied… Yet you pretend it’s coping”.
“Our son isn’t lucky to have survived his birth, he is lucky to have survived your government. You have failed your people, your country and your own humanity”.