Community paramedics can relieve health pressures

Media statement

May 31, 2022

Tania Maxwell has welcomed a move by Australia’s first community paramedic service to extend its home care health support network to the North East.

The Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party Member for Northern Victoria said HMS Collective will partner with Wangaratta’s Open Door Neighbourhood House specifically to deliver preventative health care for carers who look after others at home.

The service will also help these carers to connect with doctors and other community support.

HMS Collective co-chief executive officer Ranee Wilkinson expects the ‘Care for carers’ service to start within six weeks.

“This is such an encouraging move by an organisation led by qualified paramedics and supported by retired and former paramedics, nurses, other health professionals and ambulance transport attendants living in our communities,” Ms Maxwell said.

“It will help to ease pressure on over-stretched triple-zero, emergency and hospital patient services.

“The serious challenges faced across our health system are affecting the level of care that people can expect and the level of care that our dedicated healthcare workforce can deliver.

“My heart goes out to emergency despatchers, ambulance paramedics, and nurses, doctors and hospital staff who have to face these demands every day when COVID has dramatically changed the way our healthcare system works.

“Everyone knows about its impact on ambulance response times, hospital ramping and the risks to patient care and staff safety.

“But Victoria needs to look to options like the one that HMS Collective provides.

“While it doesn’t operate an ambulance, the range of services it offers can start to meet demands for non-urgent care and preventative care in our communities if properly resourced.

“It’s an option that’s working really well in the Macedon Ranges in my Northern Victoria electorate and, extending from western Melbourne, it’s becoming available to people in Corio and Ballarat and it’s likely to be brought to Bendigo shortly.

“It’s a solution from the community – using skills and experience available in our communities – to deliver aged and disability care, wound and post-hospital care, mental health support and medication checks, palliative care and other personal health care services.”

Ms Maxwell last week told Parliament that HMS Collective estimates its 20 workers save 90 hours of ambulance attendance every week and the care they provide significantly reduces the burden on demand for hospital beds.

“But the service doesn’t qualify for state funding, relying instead on National Disability Insurance Scheme and My Aged Care package funding, donations and local grants to meet its costs,” she said.

“I’m pressing the government to see what can be done to change that.

“Because of our advocacy, the emergency services and health ministers also know that funding that would enable trained Country Fire Authority brigades to provide emergency first aid until an ambulance arrives is another practical and likely life-saving option.

“Kiewa-Tangambalanga CFA brigade is ready and waiting to pilot such a scheme in communities where the wait time for an ambulance is often among the longest in the state.

“I’m sure other rural brigades would be very keen to consider providing a first responder service.

“Both options just make common sense.”

PHOTO:

HMS Collective’s co-chief executive officer and paramedic Andrew McDonell (left), principal organiser Sharon Picking (second from right), and innovation facilitator and paramedic Jacqui Wilkinson (right) with Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party’s Northern Victoria MP Tania Maxwell and Western Victoria MP Stuart Grimley at Parliament on May 26, 2022.