Hunter New England Health has apologised to a woman who was advised to "buy a fan from Bunnings" to cool down her sick daughter in hospital.
Abbie Kearney was admitted to John Hunter Hospital with a suspected fractured pelvis following a horse riding accident last Wednesday.
A small fan that had been cooling a private room in Ward F1 where the 20-year-old had been recovering was removed on Saturday morning.
Left with no air-conditioning, Ms Kearney became nauseous in the stifling heat.
"There wasn't any air in the room, the windows were locked shut," she said.
"I asked them for a fan because it was so hot but I was told there weren't any available."
Ms Kearney's mother Maria Kearney arrived soon after and confronted the nursing staff about her daughter's condition.
"I was rudely told to either bring one from home or just go to Bunnings or Woolies, as they are only $20.
I replied: "so a patient has to provide their own fans in this hospital?" She said "yes, even the staff."
I said: "You are kidding me."
Ms Kearney bought and assembled two fans, one for her daughter and another for four elderly patients in the adjacent room who were also complaining about the heat.
"They were so grateful," she said.
She then sought out a senior manager to formally complain about the situation.
"I asked him to imagine patients walking through John Hunter Hospital's front doors with their own fans, not to mention the work, health and safety issues that bringing your own fan into the hospital would cause," Ms Kearney said.
"He was embarrassed and apologetic."
Ironically, the temperature the in ward dropped on Saturday night to the point where Ms Kearney requested an additional blanket.
There have also been other reports of fluctuating temperatures throughout the hospital in recent days.
A Hunter New England Local Health District spokesman said the safety of patients, visitors and staff was taken extremely seriously.
"We aim to provide a comfortable environment for all patients and visitors to our facilities, and we apologise if the air conditioning was not at the appropriate level in one of the wards on Saturday," he said.
"Hospital management will contact the patient and family as soon as possible and our engineering staff are investigating."
He said all John Hunter Hospital wards and patient areas were air conditioned. In addition, all NSW Health facilities are required to follow the Australian health facility guidelines, which list air conditioning, heating and ventilation as 'critical building utilities'.
The spokesman said staff should never ask patients or their families to purchase electrical items in its facilities.
"We apologise unreservedly if this has occurred. We will follow up with the relevant staff to ensure they understand how to assist appropriately when patients or visitors raise any concerns regarding air conditioning," he said.
Concerns about disease spreading via recirculated air was among the reasons why the hospital was not air-conditioned when it opened in 1991.
However, with ward temperatures routinely reaching the 40s during summer and nurses forced to hand out ice blocks to patients, the state government spent $10 million retro-fitting air-conditioning into wards between 2006 and 2008.
The Nurses and Midwives Association also forced the health service to provide air conditioning in staff rooms.
Rest breaks to relieve heat stress were also introduced at the time.
The state government unveiled its master plan for the $780 million redevelopment of the John Hunter Hospital precinct last year.
The redevelopment includes a significant expansion of the existing John Hunter Hospital and children's hospital and additional capacity to meet growing demand from the greater Newcastle and northern NSW regions.
The redevelopment includes a new and expanded emergency department and critical care services, increased interventional and imaging services and expanded inpatient units.