VICTORIAN Health Minister David Davis says our city receives excellent service because the emergency department at Ballarat Base Hospital exceeds the benchmark target for ambulance ramping times.
But Ambulance Employees Australia secretary Steve McGhie described the benchmark target – which allows for an ambulance transfer time of 40 minutes – as exceptionally long and in need of review.
Ambulances waited at Ballarat Base an average of 120 hours per month – or four hours a day – in the nine months to March, the figures obtained by Ambulance Victoria under Freedom of Information showed.
The government praised services in the Ballarat region, saying 95.7 per cent of patients who arrived at Ballarat hospital in an ambulance had their transfer competed within the target of of 40 minutes in the three months to the end of March.
The government benchmark for transfers is 90 per cent to be completed within the time frame.
Mr McGhie said the benchmark was a joke.
“Forty minutes seems to be an exceptionally long time for someone to be offloaded off the ambulance trolley into a bed,” he said.
“That might be their benchmark, but it’s not good enough.
“It should be only 15 minutes maximum.
“I can’t see why it would take 40 minutes – the only reason being here aren’t any hospital beds.”
Ms McGhie said according to figures for the past three years, Ballarat’s transfer times were actually getting worse.
He said given there were only about six day crews operating in Ballarat, and probably less at night, there were serious implications.
“If you have any of those crews waiting in line, it just means the ambulance service doesn’t have as many crews to respond to case loads,” he said.
“It puts pressure on paramedics.
“The ones that are available to respond have to travel further under emergency conditions.”
Ms McGhie said it also meant longer response times.
Meanwhile, he said the government’s benchmark of 15 minutes for ambulance response times was also not good enough.