Ambulance Victoria has defended its tardy response to a call by the family of a 77-year-old south-west woman feeling dizzy and unwell in her home.
The call for assistance came at 4.15pm, but after waiting more than an hour the frustrated family cancelled the booking and drove the patient in a private car to Warrnambool base hospital.
"After a long wait we rang to check where the ambulance was and they told us it would be at least another half hour away," the woman's daughter told The Standard.
"We had initially told them mum was feeling dizzy and had a previous heart condition.
"I'm very disappointed with the service. At least they could have rung to say they would be delayed."
Ambulance Victoria said all its vehicles in the
Warrnambool area were attending other cases at that time last Thursday and the crews were unable to respond immediately.
"Call takers experienced in telephone triage assessed this call as not requiring a "lights and sirens" emergency response and the patient was in line for the next available ambulance vehicle," the ambulance Barwon
south-west regional manager Mick Cameron said.
"We were told the patient had a cardiac history, but was not displaying symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath.
"The ambulance was cancelled at 5.20pm when the family of the woman placed her in a private vehicle and took her to hospital.
"While it can be distressing to patients and their loved ones we need to use our resources appropriately to ensure the right level of care is reaching the right patients at the right time.
"If a long delay is anticipated we try to call patients and inform them, but this does not appear to have occurred.
"We would be happy to speak to the family of the patient about their concerns."
The patient's family said they also left the hospital's emergency department in frustration after waiting several hours in the hope of a thorough medical assessment.
An examination was later done in a private practice.
Victoria's Oppposition has slammed the state government over declining ambulance response times posted in the Department of Health annual report.
Health spokesman David Davis said the report showed Ambulance Victoria failed to meet the statewide benchmark response time of 85 per cent of Code 1 emergency calls responded to within 15 minutes, with only 80.7 per cent of cases meeting the target - down from the 82.5 per cent in 2008-09.
The report also shows the proportion of Code 1 emergencies responded to within 15 minutes in centres with more than 7500 population was met in 86.9 per cent of cases, well below the 90 per cent benchmark and down from 88.2 per cent last year.