Tuesday, 9th May 2017

The Andrews Labor Government is continuing to repair the damage inflicted on our ambulance service by the former Liberal Government, with state-wide ambulance response times restored to what they were before the Liberals went to war with our paramedics.

The latest ambulance and hospital performance data show ambulance response times are the best in seven years, with 80 per cent of Code One emergency calls responded to within the target of 15 minutes – the first time it has reached that mark since the former Labor Government was in power in 2010.

During the height of the previous Liberal Government’s ambulance crisis in 2012/13, just 73 per cent of Code One ambulance response times met the 15 minute benchmark, meaning too many Victorians in life-threatening emergencies waited too long for an ambulance.

Over the past 12 months, thanks to the Labor Government’s record investment in, and reform of, our ambulance service, response times have improved from 75.6 per cent of Code One calls meeting the target, to 80 per cent.

In West Gippsland, we are seeing significant improvement, with 57.4 per cent of ambulances now arriving within 15 minutes for Code One emergencies, up from 50.2 per cent compared to this time last year.

This means the average time for an ambulance to reach the scene of a Code One emergency in West Gippsland over the same period has improved from 17:47 minutes to 16:23.

The Victorian Budget 2017/18 includes an additional $26.5 million to continue to improve response times and rebuild our ambulance service.

The funding in the Budget will build on our $500 million plan to improve ambulance response times – the biggest ever investment in ambulance services – which is employing 450 more paramedics, buying new vehicles and building new ambulance stations across the state.

Already, as a result of this investment, an additional 127 full-time equivalent, highly-skilled paramedics are now trained up and on the road, ready to respond to life-threatening emergencies and save lives.

As part of the initiative the Government is delivering a new Peak Period Unit to the West Gippsland community, providing extra emergency coverage for the Shady Creek and Warragul area.

The Government is also delivering an extra paramedic and an extra ambulance vehicle to provide extra emergency coverage for the communities of Venus Bay, Neerim South and Lang Lang.

And we are seeing improvements across our health system, with the March quarter delivering the best ever state-wide emergency department performance since the ‘four hour target’ was introduced.

The latest data shows that across the state 74.4 per cent of patients were admitted to emergency or treated and sent home within four hours, a huge improvement from the record low of 61.7 per cent in 2011 when the Liberals were slashing health funding.

We will continue to build on these improvements with $1.67 billion in the Victorian Budget 2017/18 to support hospitals to meet demand and provide the high quality care Victorian patients deserve, now and into the future.

The boost will support our hospitals to admit 1.9 million patients, and treat 1.8 million patients in emergency next year, while more than 200,000 patients will get the surgery they need sooner.

For the West Gippsland Hospital at Warragul, we are seeing positive results. The hospital:

• Admitted 3027 patients in the 3 months to the end of March – up from 2943 admissions in the same period a year earlier.

• Saw 5500 patients who presented to the emergency department in the 3 months to the end of March – up from 5405 presentations in the same quarter in 2016.

• Reduced the number of patients on the elective surgery waiting list – from 641 at the end of the March 2016 quarter to 360 at the end of this March.

• Treated an extra 96 patients from the elective surgery waiting list in the March quarter, compared with the waiting list admissions in the same period a year earlier.

• Provided treatment to 89% of Category 2 elective surgery patients within the benchmark 90 days in the March quarter – up from 52% a year earlier, and above the State-wide target of 80%.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Jill Hennessy:

“We said we would fix the ambulance crisis and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

“It’s simple. Instead of going to war with our paramedics and slashing funding, we’re investing in more paramedics, more ambulances and more branches.”

Quotes attributable to Member for Eastern Victoria Region Harriet Shing:

We are fixing the ambulance crisis. With the response times continuing to improve, families in West Gippsland can now have confidence that in an emergency they’ll get the life-saving care they need, when they need it.”

“Here in West Gippsland we’re investing so we can continue to perform more surgeries and treat and admit more patients than ever before despite record demand on our health system