NSW Ambulance service overwhelmed four times in the past fortnight
Posted On April 2, 2022
New South Wales‘ ambulance service has been overwhelmed multiple times in the past month, with managers and executives forced to step in to help meet demand for the service.
Paramedics say they are facing the same pressure and delays that they would normally only see in the peak of winter.
Health Services Union’s Tess Oxley has said hospital delays are only increasing, leading to ambulances queuing outside hospitals waiting to offload patients.
“Everyone is just becoming more and more busy and we’re just not being able to respond. And our patients and the community are having to wait longer and longer for us,” she said.
In the past two weeks, NSW Ambulance has reached ‘status 3’ – its highest emergency response level – on four occasions.
Wait times in the last quarter of last year also blew out, with 40 per cent of ambulances not reaching priority 1A cases – the most severe – within the 10 minute benchmark.
The service in now investigating two deaths in March to determine if the response time was a factor.
NSW Ambulance Commissioner Dominic Morgan has said a number of factors are behind the issue, not just COVID-19.
“The car crashes are up. The assaults are going up. Alcohol and related drug activity are going up. Falls are going up. All of that on top of Omicron is not something we’d seen before,” he said.
Managers and other trained staff have had to step in to help respond to Triple Zero calls.
In response, the union is calling for another 2000 paramedics.
Health Services Union’s Gerard Hayes has said the repeated blowouts showed the current service needed more manpower.
“This isn’t a one-off now. This seems to be a continuous issue. That clearly shows that the response times will continue to consistently blow out,” he said.