DESPITE widespread claims to the contrary by local paramedics and their union, the State Government has maintained extra resources meant a record number of cases were being handled by local ambulances.
As an enterprise bargaining dispute drags on between Ambulance Victoria and Ambulance Employees Australia (Victoria), the State Government has come under constant fire from paramedics for failing to adequately resource an ambulance system buckling under demand.
Last week State Health Minister David Davis released figures indicating AV put 3713 more shifts on the road across Gippsland in 2012/13 than it had in 2009/10, an increase of 13.7 per cent.
He said increased resources enabled AV to respond to a record 50,323 cases in Gippsland and that over the past three years Gippsland paramedic numbers had jumped by 40.5 per cent, an increase of more than 70 paramedics.
State Parliamentary Secretary for Health Wade Noonan, however, hit back at the minister’s comments, accusing him of releasing “dodgy” data which did not “stack up”.
Mr Davis issued figures for the three months to the end of March showing Morwell, Traralgon and Moe ambulances had responded to 384, 352 and 481 ‘code one’ calls respectively, reaching more than half of them within 11 to 14 minutes.
Mr Noonan said the government had only given “half the picture” and should instead be “telling the community what’s happening in the other 50 per cent of cases, where the ambulance service is consistently failing to perform”.
“The government, in this year’s budget papers, revealed that almost 30 per cent of ambulances are taking longer than 15 minutes to respond to life threatening emergencies,” he said.
“That means more and more people are being left dangerously exposed while they wait longer for medical care.”
Ambulance Employees Australia (Victoria) general secretary Steve McGhie also told The Express the data failed to account for “the real story”.
He said paramedics had been unable to get to a number of cardiac arrest cases across Gippsland in recent times within 18 to 20 minutes and that any increased staff numbers had merely “filled gaps” while there had been “little or no increase in the number of ambulance crews”.
“Why are there Gippsland towns being left uncovered, why are people being told to take themselves to hospital and why are managers having to transfer people to hospital in a sedan?” Mr McGhie asked.