Ending The Ambulance Crisis: Improving Services, Saving Lives

The Andrews Labor Government is fast-tracking funding to take immediate action to reform our ambulance system – delivering improved response times and better support for paramedics after four years of crisis and neglect under the former Liberal Government.

Minister for Ambulance Services, Jill Hennessy, today released the final report of the Ambulance Performance and Policy Consultative Committee, Victoria’s Ambulance Action Plan: Improving Services, Saving Lives.

The landmark report delivers on the Labor Government’s election promise to end the war on paramedics and work with them, not against them – and builds on work already undertaken to reform our ambulance service.

Since coming to office, we’ve:

  • ended the long-running industrial dispute with paramedics
  • appointed a new board of Ambulance Victoria
  • released previously secretly data about ambulance response times
  • invested $99 million to improve ambulance services across the state, upgrade ambulance stations, equipment and vehicles and expand counselling services available to paramedics.

Now, the Government is bringing forward the $60 million Response Time Rescue Fund so we can get on with implementing recommendations set out in Victoria’s Ambulance Action Plan straight away and ensure our ambulance system is providing the right care, for the right patient, at the right time.

This fast-tracked funding will provide more clinicians in Ambulance Victoria’s Secondary Triage Service to ensure the sickest patients receive the fastest responses.

As part of these changes, additional funding will be provided to Ambulance Victoria and primary health networks to ensure those less critical calls are treated by a more appropriate service provider, such as a GP, and free up more ambulances to attend to life threatening cases.

The Government is also investing in our paramedics to improve their health, wellbeing and training. Additional resources will see every paramedic receive training to support them to stay mentally healthy and reduce the occurrence and impact of occupational violence.

An additional 26 vehicles will be provided to help paramedics end their shifts on time, reducing fatigue and giving them more time to spend with their families.

Our rural and regional communities will receive extra support, with the establishment of new paramedic support co-ordinator trials to provide emergency response in communities of Wedderburn, Rainbow, Hopetoun, Jeparit and Patchewollock.

A ‘Country First Responder’ program will be developed to train community volunteers to provide basic life support and administer defibrillation to cardiac arrest patients, and we are also conducting a trial of stationing two paramedics in Nagambie over the summer and Easter period.

The historic action plan marks the first time ever that the Victorian Government, paramedics, Ambulance Victoria, the Ambulance Employees Australia – Victoria and health services have come together to develop an agreed set of priorities to transform the delivery of ambulance services to the Victorian community.

A new advisory group made up of paramedics, Ambulance Victoria, the union, Government, consumers and other health and emergency services will also be established to track the implementation of the plan.

Earlier this year, the Committee’s interim report highlighted the challenges and identified proposals to reform Victoria’s ambulance service before embarking on extensive community consultation.

Victoria’s ambulance response times had deteriorated over the past six years, recording the worst performance on the Australian mainland, while workloads were increasing and paramedics were suffering from excessive fatigue, low morale and unacceptable injury and violence.

It also found almost 60 per cent of all emergency incidents were classified as Code 1, but on arrival paramedics often found that a Code 1 response was not required.

The final report can be found at www.health.vic.gov.au/ambulance

Quotes attributable to Minister for Ambulance Services, Jill Hennessy 

“We’re fast-tracking funding to give our paramedics the support and training they need to do what they do best, which is saving lives.” 

“Our reforms will save lives by ensuring our paramedics are responding to the right patient, at the right time, with the right care.” 

Quotes attributable to Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Mary-Anne Thomas

“Victoria’s hardworking paramedics deserve to be respected and supported, and we must do more to care for those who care for us.” 

“These reforms will make a real difference in our rural and regional communities, with additional resources to provide better, faster responses.”

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