The chief of NSW Ambulance personally arranged for an ambulance to be dispatched to Dominic Perrottet’s home and transport his injured wife to hospital after speaking to the premier on the phone during a meeting with the state’s health minister.
Perrottet on Wednesday denied he and his family had received any preferential treatment last month when his wife Helen suffered a spinal injury, but confirmed he had called Health Minister Brad Hazzard to seek advice, who happened to be in the same room as the NSW Ambulance commissioner at the time.
“My only concern at the time was Helen, and when they said that she needed an ambulance, and it was being arranged, I just went straight home. The only focus I had was her, she was in immense pain. She was crying when she couldn’t move to bed,” Perrottet said.
The premier said he had been “completely transparent” in relation to the incident, and he would take advice on whether to release the ambulance call logs. However, his office later said the logs were a matter for NSW Health. NSW Health then declined to release the logs, citing patient confidentiality concerns.
The Herald’s request to view the triple zero call and ambulance dispatch logs was not addressed in the NSW Ambulance response either.
Perrottet said NSW Ambulance Commissioner Dominic Morgan organised the ambulance to be dispatched to his home.
The premier revealed his sister-in-law had also called an ambulance to their address to treat his wife, who he said had a slipped disc, but he did not know what happened to that request. Perrottet said the ambulance took about 40 minutes to reach his home.
“The information I have is that my wife’s sister, who was over at home looking after her, called an ambulance. I then spoke to Helen and said ‘I’m coming straight home, an ambulance has been arranged’,” he said.
“Brad [Hazzard] is a friend and somebody who has been around health for many, many years, and he’s somebody who I speak to regularly.”
The story was first reported by Sky News on Tuesday, during an interview with Perrottet.
Just four days from the state election, Perrottet questioned how key aspects of his wife’s medical details could be leaked.
“I just think it’s completely inappropriate that any person in NSW’s private health information is leaked in this way,” he said.
The premier accepted that some people could perceive him calling the state’s health minister during a family incident and speaking to the head of NSW Ambulance, who arranged medical treatment for his wife, as special treatment.
Asked whether he would now do anything differently, he said, “I don’t know, I mean, my only concern at the time was Helen”.
NSW Labor leader Chris Minns said he would take the premier at his word.
“He says that he got no special treatment,” Minns said. “In a similar situation, I honestly don’t know what I would do.
“I’m not going to knock the premier for the decision that he made. And again, I’m just being honest with you, I don’t know what I would do in a similar set of circumstances.”
The head of the Health Service Union, which represents paramedics, slammed the politicisation of confidential patient information.
The union’s NSW secretary and national president Gerard Hayes said the organisation was deeply dismayed by a breach of patient confidentiality regarding Ms Perrottet.
“Elections are rough and tumble affairs and that’s to be expected. However, the private health information of a politician’s family should never be politicised,” Hayes said.
“If there have been abuses of process, then these can be reported and investigated. But to drag the health information of family members into the public domain is unconscionable.”
A spokeswoman for NSW Ambulance said Morgan and an emergency medicine consultant were at a scheduled meeting with the health minister on February 13, 2023, when the premier called Hazzard and told him that his wife had been injured.
“Dr Morgan asked some clinical questions and recommended that an ambulance be sent, as in his view it was an injury that needed to be properly assessed in an emergency department but did not require a lights and siren response from NSW Ambulance,” the spokeswoman said in a statement.
“Dr Morgan subsequently requested an ambulance for the patient and he categorised the case as priority 2i,” the fourth response category after priorities 1a, 1b and 1c.
“No request was made to Dr Morgan to call an ambulance or to prioritise the response over other higher priority emergencies at any time,” the statement said.
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