AMBULANCE Victoria’s annual report tabled in the Victorian Parliament reveals that response times for life-threatening emergencies are getting longer.
State opposition parliamentary secretary for health Wade Noonan said the proportion of emergency incidents responded to within 15 minutes across the state for the 2011-12 reporting period was just 74.8 per cent, more than 10 per cent below the government’s own target.
There were no specific figures available for south-west Victoria.
“It doesn’t matter whether you live in metropolitan Melbourne or regional Victoria, the fact is one in four ambulances is failing to respond to life-threatening emergencies within the Baillieu government’s own benchmark of 15 minutes,” Mr Noonan said.
“These figures reveal that ambulances are taking longer to reach car accidents and heart attack victims in need of life-saving assistance.
“Before the last election, the Baillieu government said that Victorians deserve the highest quality ambulance services and have the right to expect timely responses during emergencies.”
However, Mr Noonan said ambulance response times were going backwards and placing Victorian lives at risk.
“Ambulance Victoria has said that response times are growing longer because ambulances are waiting longer at hospitals to transfer their patients, pointing to a health system in gridlock,” he said.
“The Baillieu government’s $616 million cuts to the Victorian health system are having a negative impact on frontline services such as ambulances.
“The Baillieu government should stop blaming others for their failings and get on with the job of providing an effective ambulance service for the people of Victoria. Our ambulance paramedics do a great job under extreme pressure, but at the moment they are being stretched to the limit,” Mr Noonan said.
Ambulance Victoria chief executive officer Greg Sassella said paramedics respond to 2197 incidents every day with that number increasing from 786,588 in 2010/11 to 801,853 last financial year.
“Response times can be affected by many factors including traffic, road and weather conditions, distance required to travel, demand for ambulance services, hospital transfer times and availability of crews,” he said.
“They are not the only measure of a quality ambulance service. We continue to see improvements in the more important measures of whether people live or die, and the quality of their life, for cardiac arrest, heart attack, stroke and head trauma patients.”