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Working With Paramedics To End The Ambulance Crisis

15 March 2015

On day one, the Andrews Labor Government declared an end to the war on paramedics and referred the paramedics’ pay case to the independent umpire.

The Ambulance Victoria Board was replaced and a new Acting CEO was appointed, and previously secret data about ambulance response times was released.

Today, on the Government’s 100th day, Premier Daniel Andrews and the Minister for Ambulance Services, Jill Hennessy, released the interim report of the Ambulance Performance and Policy Consultative Committee.

This Committee was established as promised, to hear first-hand from paramedics, and to make recommendations to improve Ambulance Victoria’s service performance and culture.

The Andrews Labor Government is working with paramedics, not against them, to end the ambulance crisis left behind by the Liberals.

The Interim Report shows that:

  • Ambulance response time performance has fallen dramatically over recent years
  • Dispatching an ambulance to a Code 1 incident in the metropolitan region takes, on average, one minute longer compared to six years ago
  • Public demand for emergency ambulance services has increased 5 per cent over the past six years
  • In recent years, almost 60 per cent of all emergency incidents were classified as Code 1, but on arrival paramedics found that a Code 1 response was not required
  • Paramedics are experiencing excessive fatigue, low morale and unacceptable injury and violence, with around 45 per cent of the workforce last year saying they would not recommend the service as a good place to work.

The Committee is now seeking feedback on the proposed reforms from paramedics and the community, with final recommendations to be provided to the Government by the end of the year.

Proposed reforms include:

  • Improving collaboration with health services for emergency patient care
  • Reviewing guidelines to facilitate paramedics decision making at the scene and cases that do not require transport to an emergency department
  • Better understanding of the issues that impact on paramedics, including drivers behind low levels of staff satisfaction and culture
  • Reducing congestion at emergency departments
  • Improving community awareness about when to call Triple 0 for an ambulance
  • Improving transparency and accountability for public complaints
  • More accurately assessing patient needs during the call taking and dispatch process.

The Andrews Labor Government is committed to investing $60 million in a Response Time Rescue Fund for ambulance services to support new initiatives to reduce response times, and a further $40 million to upgrade ambulance stations, equipment and vehicles.

Today’s report also delivers on the Government’s pledge to tell the truth about ambulance performance by releasing local response times by Local Government Area, branch and locality.

The report found that inner city local government areas such as Yarra and Melbourne are the best performing, while rural municipalities such as Golden Plains and Hepburn have the worst response times.

Chaired by Minister Jill Hennessy, the Committee’s membership includes Parliamentary Secretary for Health Mary-Anne Thomas; paramedics Luke Baird, Colin Jones, Morgyn McCarthy-Harding and Jan Einsiedel; Ambulance Victoria Acting CEO Tony Walker and Administrator Howard Ronaldson; Western Health CEO Alex Cockram; Ambulance Employees Australia of Victoria General Secretary and Assistant Secretary Steve McGhie and Danny Hill; and Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Peter Fitzgerald.

The Interim Report can be found at www.health.vic.gov.au/ambulanceExternal Link .

Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews

“On our very first day in government, we ended the Liberals’ war on paramedics, and today, on our 100th day, we are delivering on another one of our election commitments – releasing this important report.”

“By working with paramedics to fix the ambulance crisis, we’re finding the minutes that save lives.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Ambulance Services, Jill Hennessy

“After four years under the Liberals, Victoria’s ambulance system is crisis, with response times worse than ever.”

“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.”

“It has been a real privilege to personally meet paramedics across Victoria in recent months, and I want to thank them all for their time and for sharing their insights. I look forward to continuing our work to make our ambulance services the best they can be.”

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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