Leah Watkins, Secretary of the Ambulance Employees Association (AEA) today stated, “The South Australian Ambulance Service (SAAS) is deteriorating along with our health system more broadly. It is Government’s responsibility to provide safe, quality and accessible health care, particularly so in times of emergency. The overwhelming evidence suggests the Marshall Liberal Government is failing South Australians in respect of this. There have been repeated stories of patients suffering, even dying, whilst waiting hours for an ambulance, and waiting hours on the ramp outside hospitals.”
“The Productivity Commission shows that SAAS response times are their worst on record, with the SA State Budget citing the performance for Priority 2, life-threatening cases, at a record-low 69%. These aren’t just numbers on a page, they are our mothers, fathers and our children. They are suffering traumatic injuries, and medical emergencies and are failing to receive an ambulance in a safe time-frame that the Government itself has committed to.” Ms. Watkins stated.
Today the AEA is releasing a comprehensive document to the public of South Australia which outlines what measures are needed to build resilience into SA Ambulance Service ensuring there is appropriate capacity and resources available to meet the current demands facing SA Ambulance Service both now and into the future. The document is available on our website and attached to this release, ‘Building resilience in SA Ambulance Service to deliver quality, safe services for all South Australians now and into the future. ’
“I am deeply concerned for the safety of South Australians and for our members. This document highlights what measures are urgently needed to ensure a safe and sustainable ambulance service. I urge the Government to adopt the measures outlined in this document.” Ms. Watkins stated.
Today we call on the Government to recruit 370 more staff for SA Ambulance Service including; 290 Paramedics, 57 Ambulance Officers & 23 Communications Personnel across the State of South Australia. This will build capacity through an additional 11 ambulance crews for Metropolitan Adelaide and 17 ambulance crews for regional South Australia.
These numbers are in addition to the 74 paramedics promised to be recruited by March next year under the current Government. Those 74 staff will only create 3 additional ambulances for all of metropolitan Adelaide and do not provide any additional ambulance resources for our regional communities. This promise falls far short of what is needed to safely service the community of South Australia.
The Ambulance Service has been chronically underfunded and under resourced. Increased demand on healthcare services have not been matched with increased ambulance resourcing, the commitment to recruit 370 more ambos will ensure that our Ambulance Service can meet the needs of all South Australians no matter where they live or work.
The document outlines measures which will alleviate ramping, change the ambulance service funding model and prepare our states Ambulance Service to meet the needs of COVID after our borders open. These include the introduction of a mandatory 30-minute transfer of care policy to ensure ambulances are released from ramps to attend uncovered emergencies in the community and a change to activity-based funding for adequate and sustainable ambulance funding into the future.
These form part of 20 key recommendations that we are seeking to build capacity and resilience into the ambulance service, which are outlined in detail in the document.
Our members are increasingly reporting delayed response times to patients in the community and significant ramping. “When members of the public call Triple Zero they expect an ambulance to arrive in minutes not hours. There are now at least 3 cases before the State Coroner for patients that have passed away that have involved a delayed ambulance.
The ambulance service broke yet another record for all the wrong reasons – there were 854 hours of ramping last week alone. This is equivalent to over 10, 12-hour ambulance crews denied to the community every single day last week”. Stated Ms. Watkins.
The Marshall Government’s COVID plan outlines no measures to bolster ambulance capacity once our borders open or any tangible measures that will resolve ramping. Without early action our state’s health and ambulance system will be left unprepared and patients will be put at risk.