Worst areas for ambulance response times border Ballarat

Ambulance response times published by Fairfax Media show areas near Ballarat suffered the worst rates of late ambulances in the state.

Ambulance response times published by Fairfax Media show areas near Ballarat suffered the worst rates of late ambulances in the state.

PREMIER Daniel Andrews hopes an injection of funds will help solve the ambulance crisis in regional areas.

However, the newly-elected Premier, who was in Ballarat on Wednesday, did not explain why the region had some of the worst response times in the state.

Ambulance Victoria data, released this week to the paramedics’ union through Freedom of Information laws after a legal battle, covers code-one calls between January 1, 2013 and January 8, 2014.

INTERACTIVE BREAKDOWN OF LATE CODE-ONE RESPONSE TIMES:

It shows just one in 10 critical call-outs were met within the 15-minute recommended response time in the Hepburn and Golden Plains shires.

Overall, it shows that 86,739 or 28 per cent of the 306,316 code-one "lights and sirens" cases waited longer than 15 minutes for an ambulance.

This is 40,000 more than in 2009-10 when 47,951 or 19 per cent of 249,501 code-one calls waited longer than 15 minutes. The data was published in the Victorian Auditor-General's 2010 report on Access to Ambulance Services.

The Victorian government's target is for all ambulances to reach code-one cases within 15 minutes 85 per cent of the time. In high-density population areas with a population of more than 7500 people, the target is 90 per cent.

Response times in the Ballarat region.

Response times in the Ballarat region.

Labor’s $100 million statewide commitment to solving the crisis will see $60 million spent on programs and initiatives to reduce response times.

“We will talk to ambos and listen to them ,” Mr Andrews said.

Mr Andrews said response time data would be released "regularly” but it was too early to determine exactly how often.

When asked why response times in municipalities surrounding Ballarat were among the worst in the state, he replied: “You’d need to speak to some of the operational ambos who actually service this area.

Premier Daniel Andrews in Ballarat on Wednesday to address poor response times. PICTURE: Lachlan Bence

Premier Daniel Andrews in Ballarat on Wednesday to address poor response times. PICTURE: Lachlan Bence

“They’ve got worse every month of every year that the Coalition have been in power. We have a big repair job,” Mr Andrews said.

Ambulance Victoria Wendouree team manager Mark Brown said response times were poor because code-one incidents were often misreported to ESTA and extra communications resources were needed.

“We had one recently that was a code-one to a person with a broken fi nger nail,” Mr Brown said.

“Sometimes you have 30 calls coming through every minute.”

Ballarat intensive care unit paramedic Andrew Gunn said poor response times was primarily due to a lack of resources.

“In Ballarat especially, the workload increases every year. There hasn’t been a corresponding level of staff  levels,” Mr Gunn said.

He said the Hepburn region was in some cases left unattended when the unit was called in to back up Ballarat units.

He echoed Mr Brown’s comments that an issue remained with dispatch criteria.

Code-one calls include heart attacks, strokes, major car accidents, severe asthma attacks and the imminent birth of a premature baby.

david.jeans@fairfaxmedia.com.au

-with The Age