In a recent leaked report, it has been found that 90 per cent of response times by Ambulance Victoria have stretched to 40 minutes or more.
Under the leadership of the Liberal government in June last year, 11.2 per cent of patients were forced to wait longer than 40 minutes for paramedics to arrive at the scene.
“Ambulance Victoria and health services across the state are continuing to implement a range of strategies to manage and improve transfer times,” Mick Cameron, Ambulance Victoria Acting General Manager Regional Services, told The Newsroom.
“These strategies include increased communications between the AV communications centre and hospitals and improved management of patient arrivals in hospital emergency departments.
“For example, ambulance arrival boards at 16 hospitals are a practical measure to track how many ambulances are at the hospital and how many are loaded with a patient and en route.”
Data for Melbourne hospitals shows an even worse result, with up to 15.3 per cent of patients exceeding the 40 minute target in June this year, compared to 11.8 per cent last year around the same time.
The Royal Melbourne Hospital, St Vincent’s, the Northern, Sunshine and the Austin in Heidelberg were amongst the worst performing Melbourne hospitals, with 20-25 per cent of patients forced to wait longer than 40 minutes.
“I was drifting in and out of consciousness after a car crash,” 48-year-old Sunbury resident Tammy Allen, told The Newsroom. “I remember being in constant pain from five broken ribs and the amount of time that it took for The Royal Melbourne hospital to send out an ambulance was ridiculous. I was very close to dying, if the ribs weren’t treated in a timely manner.”
The state wide median waiting time was 18 – 20 minutes, but with 10 per cent of patients throughout the previous financial year waiting beyond 40 – 50 minutes to be treated, which tied up the ambulances and paramedics.
“It has been a long standing practice whenever we become aware of lengthening transfer times to arrange for managers to liaise with emergency department staff to quickly find a solution and to make paramedics available,” Mr Cameron said.
“In June, we asked team managers to proactively spend more time at hospitals to provide support to improve hospital clearing times and increase ambulance availability. We will monitor and review the policy’s effectiveness.”
Under Labor, the Andrews government made a promise during last year’s election campaign that he would help improve these services, announcing his plan to sack the Ambulance Victoria board and replace them with a newer, better board.
Labor also promised to contribute funds of up to $100 million to improve response times and a further $60 million for a “response time emergency fund” to free up ambulances for patients in the worst conditions. – Sarah Batt