Palliative care patient dies on ambulance stretcher at Melbourne hospital

A palliative care patient has died on an ambulance stretcher after waiting for a bed in a busy emergency room at the Northern Hospital in Epping earlier this month.

Nine News understands the man was not moved from the ambulance stretcher, as nurses tried to prolong his death so the family could say goodbye.

A spokesperson for the hospital said they're thoughts were "with the family".

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Victorian Ambulance Union secretary Danny Hill said the patient arrived at the hospital in an ambulance during a ramping event.

"It's not how someone should exit the world," he said.

"We had an elderly patient who died in a hospital corridor, in a first world system, they should be surrounded by their family in an area where they've got the support that they need.

"Despite the efforts of hospital staff, this man didn't die with dignity and that would be heartbreaking for the staff working."

Hill said this was only the latest example of Victoria's stretched and crippled healthcare system.

"I don't think there is any part of the health system that isn't under strain across the country, it's a health crisis," he said.

"Every night, our hospital system is completely overwhelmed.

"It's hard to imagine things getting worse than they already are."

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It comes as health authorities warn of a potentially deadly flu season ahead.

The flu has already taken the lives of three Australians in the past fortnight.

"It appears we've been struck with a vengeance today, the next three months will be a tough ride for Victorians," Australian Medical Association Victoria president Roderick McRae said.

"If you require emergency service you must seek it but you must understand you may end up in a tent outside an ED."

Hill said with the predicted flu season ahead, it was important for all Victorians to get vaccinated.

"We encourage everyone to do what they can they can to be in good health and void the strain on hospital emergency departments," he said.

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