THE widow of Lake Macquarie paramedic Tony Jenkins has expressed disappointment after a protest outside Hamilton ambulance station today, on the six-month anniversary of her husband’s suicide, while seeking an apology over NSW Ambulance inferring his death was linked to a drug addiction.
Sharon Jenkins said public comment by NSW Ambulance chief executive Dominic Morgan after her husband’s death on April 9, and some of the contents of a NSW investigation report, exacerbated the anguish his family felt.
In an ABC interview in May Mr Morgan said of Mr Jenkins: “He was this well-respected, well-regarded professional and it concerns me greatly that a person with that reputation could find themselves so desperate that their only option was to turn to drugs and addiction.”
A NSW Ambulance internal investigation report given to the Jenkins family in September cited reports of Mr Jenkins “appearing sleepy, a series of near miss accidents whilst driving and clinical records not completed to his usual standard” in the months before his death to justify a conclusion that “these behaviours were early warning signs of a possible addiction to Fentanyl”.
The Jenkins family has demanded an apology from NSW Ambulance after the internal investigation report showed a secret review three months before Mr Jenkins’ death concluded there was “no evidence” he “mis-used” restricted NSW Ambulance medications.
“I’m going to stand outside the ambulance station until they apologise,” Mrs Jenkins said before her protest.
“It’s six months on Tuesday since Tony died and the more we learn about events leading up to that day, and on that day, the more questions we have to ask,” she said.
The family is even more determined for an independent coronial inquiry after a NSW Ambulance internal investigation provided no solid proof to back public allegations 38 Fentanyl vials at four Hunter ambulance stations were tampered with, or that Mr Jenkins was responsible. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid painkiller 100 times more potent than morphine.
Mrs Jenkins also challenged Health Minister Brad Hazzard about the independence of a NSW Health review that will run concurrently with a NSW Police investigation for the NSW Coroner’s office.
“We’ve asked for an independent agency to run the review,” Mrs Jenkins said.
“Tony is not here to defend himself, but his family is, and we’re determined to continue the fight for answers.”
Mr Jenkins took his own life about two hours after he was dropped off, alone, by a senior NSW Ambulance officer after a meeting where it is alleged he was spoken to about his alleged use of Fentanyl taken from Hunter ambulance stations.
NSW Ambulance did not respond to detailed questions last week about the call for an apology and the evidence relied on by the service to suggest Mr Jenkins was addicted to Fentanyl in the period before his death.
In a statement NSW Ambulance said it could not comment because “the circumstances surrounding Mr Jenkins’ death are currently being investigated by NSW Police on behalf of the Coroner”.
“NSW Ambulance continues to offer support to the Jenkins family during this difficult time,” the statement said.
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