A woman left unable to walk and waiting months for surgery planned her own suicide after repeatedly being told her case “wasn’t serious enough”.
A woman left unable to walk and waiting months for surgery planned her own suicide after repeatedly being told her case “wasn’t serious enough”.

‘I was sitting there planning how to die’

A GOLD Coast woman left unable to walk and waiting months for a double hip replacement has revealed she planned her own suicide as hospital staff claimed her case "wasn't serious enough".

Mudgeeraba woman Patricia Clayton claimed her surgery has been postponed and cancelled multiple times despite her being confined to a wheelchair and unable to bathe herself properly for weeks at a time.

The 57-year-old former community support worker was forced to quit her job when her hip problems left her unable to walk, with her husband also forced to retire to become her full-time carer.

Her saga is the latest in a series of heartbreaking stories shared by the Bulletin, uncovering a health system in crisis, with patients waiting for almost two years before their first appointment.

Ms Clayton said staff repeatedly told her she was "too young" for a hip replacement.

"The reason I went to see (a private surgeon) was because I thought, 'How can I argue with an orthopaedic surgeon?'" she said.

"I'm in a wheelchair at the appointment (at the hospital), I'm telling him I can't walk, he doesn't believe me.

"So you start to think there's something in your head. Eighteen months ago they were telling me this (but) they were looking at old X-rays.

"They're telling me at the emergency department when I went in six times, 'don't come back until you're paralysed'.

"There was a meeting between three doctors and they agreed my hips were bad but not bad enough for hip replacement."

Former carer Patricia Clayton has now been left devastated after having her surgery cancelled yet again. Picture: Jerad Williams
Former carer Patricia Clayton has now been left devastated after having her surgery cancelled yet again. Picture: Jerad Williams

She said she has now been waiting one year and 155 days for surgery.

Her husband has been forced to carry her upstairs "once a fortnight" to shower in their upstairs bathroom.

She said she can now barely stand and fears for her life.

"I can hardly stand, never mind walk and it seems no one wants to help me," she said.

"Some days I was sitting there planning how to die.

"I thought I was just too much trouble for people, and maybe I'd be better off just ending it.

"I can't go to emergency because they don't want me there. They just let me lie there in a chair in the hall."

A Gold Coast Health spokesperson said they could not comment on individual patients.

"We appreciate that it is painful for patients waiting for hip replacement surgery," she said.

"We recommend that patients see their GP regularly so if their condition worsens, they can be re-referred to be considered as a more urgent category.

"From our most recent Performance Report (March 2021), 90 percent of orthopaedic elective surgeries were treated in time.

"The average waiting time for orthopaedic surgery was 66 days."

They added there were just three patients on the "long-wait" list as of March.

Mudgeeraba MP and Shadow Health Minister Ros Bates has accused the state government of "losing control" of the health system.

A Gold Coast woman, Patricia Clayton, has shared she planned to end her life after waiting almost two years for a double hip replacement. Picture: Jerad Williams
A Gold Coast woman, Patricia Clayton, has shared she planned to end her life after waiting almost two years for a double hip replacement. Picture: Jerad Williams

"As a nurse and former hospital administrator, I know how stressful it can be for the frontline staff working under these intense conditions," she said.

"The Gold Coast is desperate for new funding, more beds and a plan to fix ramping and reduce surgery wait times.

"Honest Queenslanders are sick of Labor blaming Canberra, Campbell Newman and COVID for their health crisis."

The state government has fired back at a continued onslaught by the LNP this week in Parliament, with Health Minister Yvette D'Ath repeatedly claiming the crisis is a "national issue".

"I went through in detail our commitment of $100 million to start assisting with some of these pressures on top of our record health budget," she told the house.

"Even overnight there were more media reports from interstate.

"This is a national issue. There needs to be a national conversation about what is happening right now across the system.

"What was announced in the federal budget (is not) going to help in any of our areas. We are still going to see these pressures grow."

brianna.morris-grant@news.com.au

 

Originally published as Hospital crisis: 'I was sitting there planning how to die'