The Nationals leader and Member for Murray Plains, Peter Walsh, says ambulance times across his electorate are going from bad to almost terminal as people increasingly face life-threatening delays.
Mr Walsh says in the few response categories which have improved, the changes are minimal, and they were already at “totally unacceptable” levels.
He says the latest data shows ambulance response times in both Swan Hill Rural City and Campaspe Shire are now beyond manageable for people facing everything from heart attacks or car crashes to sporting injuries or severe or sudden illness.
“In Campaspe, response times for life-threatening, the highest ranked call, rose three minutes to 24.73 minutes and in Swan Hill that jumped more than four minutes to 18.88 minutes,” he says.
“If you are having a heart attack or a stroke in those communities this sort of catastrophic failure to perform could literally be a death sentence.”
Mr Walsh says in the next most urgent response codes, Campaspe saw marginal improvements, measured in seconds, not minutes, taking ‘time critical’ and ‘lights and sirens’ to a staggering 31.93 and 31.88 minutes respectively.
He says in Swan Hill both those categories jumped more than two minutes.
“I get we are in regional Victoria, but the areas our hard-working ambos are now being asked to cover are ridiculous,” Mr Walsh added.
“One of my Echuca constituents, a 73-year-old woman, had collapsed in extreme pain at her home, and could not be raised from the floor by her husband, who does not drive. They live 1km from the hospital and had to wait more than 80 minutes for an ambulance to arrive – from Bendigo,” he says.
“Thanks heavens she survived, despite the absolute breakdown of the system and its failure to protect the people of Victoria.”
Mr Walsh says he has been hearing and reading about more locals who have been told to drive loved ones to the hospital themselves, because an ambulance will take too long – or isn’t coming at all.
He says “this is a matter of life and death in some cases”, and we cannot accept, and should not have to accept, substandard results in regional Victoria.
“The frontline paramedics are working as hard as they can, they simply do not have the funding they need to ensure there are more staff and more ambulances on the road,” Mr Walsh explains.
“The resources in regional Victoria are dangerously lacking, so I urge the Government once again to provide the support we need.
“When people call Triple-Zero they should expect an ambulance to arrive, not hope for one.”