Call for 25 more paramedics to improve ambulance emergency response times

RESPONSE TIMES: Official figures show the response time for ambulances in the Central West for serious cases was below the NSW average. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

RESPONSE TIMES: Official figures show the response time for ambulances in the Central West for serious cases was below the NSW average. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

The response time for Central West ambulances to the most serious cases is below the state average, the latest official figures have revealed.

The Bureau of Health Information report for April-June 2017 found that the time taken by ambulance crews to arrive at the scene after a call met the target of 30 minutes 92.3 per cent of the time.

That was below the state average of 95 per cent of the time.

The situation was better for less serious category two cases where the target time was 60 minutes.

It found that Central West Zone 1 ambulances met the target 98.5 per cent of the time, compared to the state average of 95.3 per cent of the time.

President of Central West sub-branch of the Health Services Union Craig Parsons said zone 1 covered from Lithgow to Lake Cargelligo including Orange.

Mr Parsons said a lack of staff was contributing to crews battling to reach patients faster.

He said crews from smaller country towns were often called to help out in bigger areas, including Orange.

And he said Lithgow crews were often called in to help out Sydney crews which limited staff numbers available in the Central West.

“Molong and Blayney crews are forever in Orange doing work,” he said.

“The call response times do blow out at times because of that.

“Crews are having to travel further distances to respond to calls.”

“We are above the national bench mark because we do not have the crews.”

He said the HSU latest figures showed that at least 25 more staff were needed to properly crew the zone.

“It’s a significant number.

“About 18 months, two years ago we determined we were at least 25 officers down.

“In the past two years the job workload has increased and the staff numbers have decreased.”

The Australian Paramedics Association has also called for improvements in response times.

Secretary Steve Pearce said fast response times were vital for patients’ well-being.

“It is vital to have ambulance crews arriving on the scene as quickly as possible, ideally within 10 minutes.

“We can do better in NSW and save more lives if we had enough paramedics to meet the ever-increasing demand.”

Mr Pearce said 500 more paramedics were needed and called on the state government to use part of its surplus to provide more staff.

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