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Diabetic Noongar-Wongutha man escorted from Perth hospital for asking for a sandwich

Aaron Bloch -

Delson Stokes, a prominent Noongar-Wongutha man, musician, and member of Yabu Band, says he was racially discriminated against by staff at Perth's Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital last week.

Mr Stokes, 46, had gone to the hospital for a cataract surgery and whilst in post-operative care on early on Saturday morning, he asked for a sandwich and a coffee as he was hungry and felt his blood sugar was low. As a diabetic, he felt his request for some food was entirely reasonable.

Mr Stokes said he felt the nurse attending to him "talked down to me straight away".

The nurse told Mr Stokes he would have to wait for the breakfast trolley to come around before he could get something to eat.

Mr Stokes continued to ask for something to eat, and he says he was met with rude responses which he believed to be inconsiderate.

"This is a multibillion-dollar organisation," Mr Stokes said.

"You'd think they could give you a sandwich."

After some time, Mr Stokes saw six to eight security guards in the ward, who he discovered had come to escort him out of the hospital.

Mr Stokes said a more senior nurse came into his room and said, "you're out of here, you're discharged".

At this time Mr Stokes claims he hadn't been checked by a doctor post-surgery, nor did the senior nurse ask for Mr Stokes' side of the story or what was wrong.

Mr Stokes was then walked out of the Perth hospital by security at approximately 5.30am. He says the security guards told him they couldn't believe what was happening.

Twenty minutes after being escorted out of the hospital, Mr Stokes said he was given his medication outside.

"I felt that I was looked upon as not human," he said.

Mr Stokes believes his treatment at Sir Charles Gairdner was racially motivated, however, the hospital has denied this claim.

A spokesperson for North Metropolitan Health Service said the service "does not tolerate anti-social and aggressive behavior towards staff under any circumstances".

"Mr Stokes was discharged at 7.40am Saturday 3/7/2021 following medical advice by the treating medical team. He received professional, care throughout his hospital stay as well as appropriate nutrition in line with his condition," the spokesperson said.

"As is standard practice, Mr Stokes was provided follow-up referrals, medication and travel assistance upon his discharge, and was escorted from the hospital by two security officers."

The spokesperson also said patients who believe they did not receive appropriate care can contact the North Metropolitan Health Service's consumer liaison service to make a complaint.

Noongar Yamatji woman and Greens Senate candidate Dorinda Cox said Mr Stokes' experience at the hospital was "shocking but does not come as a surprise".

"Many other First Nations people have come forward saying that they have had similar experiences in WA's healthcare system," she said.

"It's NAIDOC Week, and yet First Nations people are still not having their basic healthcare needs addressed by the State Government. How can we work towards healing if our basic human rights aren't being met?"

Cox is urging the State Government to take urgent action.

"It's clear that we need a whole-of-government approach to our healthcare system, improving out-patient care, developing new programs to address patients with complex needs and providing wrap-around services to support patient care."

By Aaron Bloch

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