Ambulance service ‘crisis’


FRANKSTON and Mornington Peninsula residents will have the chance to have their say on planned changes to the state’s ambulance service at a community forum later this month.

The state government released an interim report last month which found ambulance response times have “fallen dramatically over recent years”.

The Ambulance Performance and Policy Consultative Committee heard first-hand from paramedics about their experiences on the job.

The committee reported the dispatching of an ambulance to a Code 1 emergency in metropolitan Melbourne takes, on average, 1 minute longer than six years ago.

While demand for emergency services has risen 5 per cent across the state over the same period, Ambulance Victoria statistics reveal just 65.92 per cent of Code 1 incidents on the Mornington Peninsula received a response within 15 minutes in 2013-14, down from 75.96 per cent in 2008-09.

Code 1 incidents are defined as “requiring an urgent lights and siren response”. Ambulance Victoria refused to release a regional breakdown of response times before last November’s state election.

Daniel Andrews forced Ambulance Victoria’s board to resign in December as one of his first acts upon becoming Premier.

Minister for Ambulance Services Jill Hennessy said Victoria’s ambulance system is in “crisis … after four years under the Liberals.”

“Our paramedics are among the most dedicated and hardest working people in our community. They deserve to be respected and supported so that they can save lives and do what they do best,” she said.

Liberal opposition spokesman for emergency services Brad Battin said a Victorian Auditor-General’s Office report “states that the raw data relied upon by Daniel Andrews was outdated or not based on evidence and simply did not provide useful information”.

Mr Battin called Labor’s “political campaign on response times … less than honest”.

“The report by the Auditor General is a flashing red light that demonstrates Daniel Andrews’ political campaign as flawed,” he said.

The Auditor-General’s Office report last month found “response times alone do not adequately describe emergency service performance and must be considered alongside information on outcomes, service quality, efficiency and cost-effectiveness for emergency service performance to be understood”.

The Andrews government plans to establish a $60 million Response Time Rescue Fund and has committed an additional $40 million to upgrade ambulance stations, equipment and vehicles.

Frankston Labor MP Paul Edbrooke will host a community forum for south east region residents on ambulance response times and plans to improve Ambulance Victoria’s service performance, with Minister for Ambulance Services Jill Hennessy, at Frankston Mechanics Hall, Plowman Place on Tuesday 28 April, 7pm.


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