Victoria’s parliament has erupted over a health issue that has been labelled ‘appalling’ before the government was accused of ‘letting people die’.
Victoria’s opposition leader has lashed out in parliament about the state’s “appalling” ambulance wait times, calling out the government for “letting Victorians die”.
The remarks follow the death of 32 year-old Caulfield woman Christina Lackmann, who died while waiting six hours for an ambulance last month.
In a heated Question Time on Tuesday, Liberal MP Michael O’Brien questioned how the government could allow the “appalling situation” to occur.
“It’s not a third world country, not an outer-suburb, yet a woman died while waiting for an ambulance,” Mr O’Brien said.
“Minister, what do you have to say to this woman’s family?”
On the evening of her death, Ms Lackmann felt dizzy and light-headed while making dinner, before vomiting and placing a call to Ambulance Victoria.
The distressed researcher was told she would be called back, but when paramedics arrived at 2am she was already dead.
The incident has drawn attention to a system in crisis, with the Australian Medical Association pointing out flaws, and the victim’s own brother labelling it “negligent”.
Mr O’Brien said the system had been described as being at its worst point in 30 years.
“The Minister has claimed, quote: ‘our health system has proven to be well prepared, adaptable and resilient,’” Mr O’Brien said.
“Who should Victorians believe, the AMA and grieving relatives of Victorians who died waiting for an ambulance, or the Minister?”
In response, Health Minister Martin Foley said he had asked for an urgent review of the incident so the tragedy wasn’t repeated.
Mr Foley went on to explain the government’s funding efforts for healthcare, but was quickly interrupted by shouting members in the chamber.
“We’re working very closely around the really complicated issues that we’ve seen with the unprecedented levels of demand in our health system, particularly our emergency departments on the back of the 2020 pandemic,” he said.
“There are some who want to cut public services and policies.”
After a stern warning to the chamber from the house speaker, Mr O’Brien bit back.
“It’s not the minister’s place to question anyone else, it’s his quiet place to answer questions,” he yelled.
“AMA said Victoria is at its worst point in 30 years. Ambulance Victoria has admitted they can’t send ambulances to people who need them, grieving relatives have to bury loved ones who die unnecessarily waiting for an ambulance.
“Will the Minister just admit that the government’s ambulance service is in crisis?”
Mr Foley again hinted at the opposition’s support of cuts to the public sector.
“We don’t wage war on public servants, we don’t wage war on paramedics,” he said.
“If there is more that needs to be done, we will work cooperatively, and in a collegiate manner with all of our health care professionals to get over this crisis.
“And we won’t be cutting services, or closing services.”