Government needs to fix ambulance response times

Letter to the editor

Many readers will be aware of recent reports about more distressing delays in ambulance arrivals at emergency incidents in some Victorian communities.

I’ve advocated repeatedly for more ambulance resources in the rural and regional areas that I represent.

I’m also continuing to push for a concerted effort by the state government, Department of Health and Ambulance Victoria to fix bottlenecks caused by practices such as ‘ramping’.

This occurs when hospital emergency departments are extremely busy and instruct paramedics to keep a patient on board until given the go-ahead to deliver them.

I’m prompted by the Heart Foundation’s Heart Week (May 3-9) to reiterate the clear need for a sustainable, permanent fix.

In the past year, ambulance response times have been under the spotlight – especially in Indigo, Loddon, Mansfield, Mitchell and Hepburn shires.

I’ve been working with these councils and taking their communities’ very real concerns to Parliament and the government so the disturbing delays that some people experience will become a thing of the past.

Earlier this year I welcomed the government’s additional $14.8 commitment to support regional ambulance services, but recent incidents show we’re not yet at the point where we can be confident that a fast, reliable and effective ambulance service will be available in emergency situations in our communities.

I’ve also been talking with Ambulance Victoria about ways we can each contribute to a solution.

Preventative health is one of them. Heart and brain health are things we can manage with good diet, exercise and regular check-ups, but heart attack and stroke still make up a substantial number of Ambulance Victoria call-outs.

The GoodSAM (Smartphone Activated Medic) app, where someone with basic first aid knowledge can be alerted to help at an incident nearby until an ambulance arrives, and the placement of defibrillators in communities, are also vital assets.

But proper resourcing that enables paramedics to attend rapidly to emergencies remains the best solution, and I’ll keep pressing the government to make sure that our Northern Victorian communities’ expectations can be met.

Tania Maxwell MP
Member for Northern Victoria, Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party