Press Releases

RURAL AMBULANCE RESPONSE TIMES DETERIORATE UNDER JOHN BRUMBY

Stephanie Ryan - Wednesday, October 06, 2010
An investigation by the Auditor-General has revealed ambulance emergency response times in regional and rural Victoria have blown out under John Brumby, Shadow Minister for Regional and Rural Development and Leader of The Nationals Peter Ryan said today.

“The A-G report Access to Ambulance Services, tabled in Parliament today, shows ambulance response times are the worst for five years, confirming ambulance services are in crisis due to a lack of resources and funding,” Mr Ryan said.

“Auditor-General Des Pearson found the amalgamation of metropolitan and regional services in 2006 was underfunded and that the merger failed to improve deteriorating response times.

“Over the past three years ambulance response times in regional Victoria have deteriorated at a greater rate than those in Melbourne, and now stand at an average four minutes longer than in the city.

“In towns with a population of less than 7,500, response times have declined since 2004–2005, with code one target response times being met less than 51 per cent of the time.

“In rural regions the average response time has increased from 13 minutes in 2004–05 to 15 minutes in 2009-10, while in Melbourne in that same period it has increased from 9 minutes to 10 minutes,” Mr Ryan said.

The A-G report also found:

  • in rural regions, growth in staff numbers has not matched increasing demand;
  • in the last six years, emergency response times have increased in all rural regions (Barwon South West, Gippsland, Grampians, Hume, Loddon Mallee);
  • in areas with minimal 24-hour or MICA branches, neighbouring areas sometimes had no ambulance cover; and
  • there is a clear link between declining response times and increased demand (from factors such as population growth, the ageing population).
Mr Ryan, who wrote to the Auditor-General on behalf of the Coalition asking him to investigate a series of regional ambulance bungles, said the government had been caught out not funding ambulance services properly.

“John Brumby has left it until just months before the state election to attempt to improve the plight of Ambulance Victoria, despite knowing for years that services were not funded properly,” Mr Ryan said.

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