Ambulance Issues

Media release – Sarah Courtney, Minister for Health, 4 March 2021

SECONDARY TRIAGE ALREADY WORKING

Last week, 127 Triple-0 calls were referred into secondary triage by Ambulance Tasmania, with 31 of those referred on to other response pathways.

Secondary triage is a brand new service in Tasmania that builds on the existing clinical assessment by Ambulance Tasmania’s highly trained staff.

Paramedics and nurses are providing secondary triage by speaking directly with patients when a Triple-0 call comes in and connecting them immediately to appropriate health services, to ensure the caller gets the right care, in the right place, at the right time.

Importantly, emergency calls requiring an ambulance response continue to have an ambulance dispatched, but this initiative also allows us to maximise the availability of our ambulances and paramedics for genuine emergency situations.

Tasmanians can have confidence that secondary triage will not only help people access appropriate medical care, it will also provide better support for our paramedics, help our resources respond more efficiently to emergencies, and avoid transport to hospital emergency departments when it is not required.

The Tasmanian Liberal Government committed $13.8 million over six years to establish this service, which delivers on our 2018 election commitment.

AMBULANCE TASMANIA TRAVEL ALLOWANCE INTERPRETATION

I reiterate my sincere thank you to every one of our hard-working paramedics for their incredible work caring for and supporting Tasmanians.

I am advised that, following an audit, Ambulance Tasmania became aware there has been an historical misinterpretation relating to travel allowance payments which did not comply with the Award.

The advice of the State Service Management Office is that because there was no legal basis upon which to make the payments in the first place, mistaken payments will need to be recovered.

Ambulance Tasmania has a legal obligation, as a Government agency, to ensure all payments comply with Award conditions.

Payments made and received, due to an interpretation of the Award applied in good faith, will be closely considered, and we are negotiating closely with HACSU on this matter and I am advised that it is nearing resolution.

I have been absolutely assured that there are hardship provisions for these issues, to ensure individuals are not in any way disadvantaged.

I have also sought assurance that Ambulance Tasmania continues to pay paramedics in accordance with the relevant Award, which includes allowances for travel in various circumstances, and have had it confirmed that there has been no changes to this award.

The Secretary of Department has assured me she is continuing to work constructively with HACSU to resolve this matter, and support our workforce into the future.

Anita Dow MP, Labor Member for Braddon, 4 March 2021

GOVERNMENT MUST EXPLAIN BURNIE AMBULANCE SUPER STATION BROKEN PROMISE

Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Michael Ferguson must explain where the promised Burnie Ambulance Super Station is.

Labor Member for Braddon Anita Dow said the Government promised at the last State Election that Ambulance Super Stations would be delivered in Glenorchy and Burnie, yet they are a year behind schedule.

“At a time when ambulance ramping has never been more chronic the Government have failed to deliver two promised Ambulance Super Stations,” Ms Dow said.

“These stations are a year behind schedule, and they are no longer described as ‘super’.

“Failed former Health Minister Michael Ferguson must explain to the community why their Ambulance station has been delayed.

“Our hard-working ambulance crews are being stretched to breaking point and there has never been a more important time to fast track these ambulance stations.

“Every day we hear stories of people waiting for long periods of time often in pain for ambulances right across our region. It is simply unacceptable.

“Minister Ferguson and this Government cannot continue to let down ambulance staff and the North-West community with broken promises.”

Media release – Dr Bastian Seidel MLC, Shadow Health Minister, 2 March 2021

TASMANIANS DYING WAITING FOR AMBULANCES WHILE PETER GUTWEIN SITS ON HIS HANDS

Peter Gutwein and Sarah Courtney are sitting on their hands while Tasmanians are dying waiting for ambulances.

Shadow Health Minister Dr Bastian Seidel said the tragic death of a patient last week could have been prevented if Peter Gutwein and Sarah Courtney provided hardworking paramedics and ambulance crews with the resources they need to save lives.

“A patient in South Hobart suffered a cardiac arrest and died after calling triple-zero to complain of chest pain but ambulance crews stuck on the ramp at the Royal Hobart Hospital could not get to this emergency,” Dr Seidel said.

“In another incident at Battery Point, a priority zero call – the highest, most urgent priority – received by Ambulance Tasmania on Sunday night was not attended to by local ambulance crews because they were ramped.

“It is disgraceful that due to no ambulance crew being available in all of greater Hobart, an off duty ambulance crew had to be called from Sorell – 25km away.

“These shocking incidents come a week after the government started rolling out secondary triage which was supposed to alleviate ramping – clearly this is not working,” Dr Seidel said.

“In Parliament today, it was clear the Premier had no plan to prevent similar tragic incidents from occurring again.

“It’s time the Premier came clean and admitted that he is failing Tasmanians and last week’s tragic death could have been prevented if he actually supported our emergency services instead of just talking himself up.”

Craig Farrell MLC, Member for Derwent, 27 February 2021

DERWENT VALLEY LEFT WITH NO AMBULANCE COVERAGE OVERNIGHT

The Liberal Government is showing complete disregard for residents of the Derwent Valley by failing to address ongoing concerns about ambulance coverage.

Member for Derwent Craig Farrell said he was shocked to learn that a lack of staff forced the closure of the New Norfolk ambulance station overnight.

“The New Norfolk ambulance station was closed from 6pm last night to 8am this morning because no crew was available,” Mr Farrell said.

“This meant all of the Derwent Valley was left without rapid response ambulance coverage for emergency situations from their local station which simply is not good enough.

“This has been an ongoing issue for some time and the government doesn’t seem interested in fixing it.

“Despite endless promises, the government is failing to recruit enough staff to meet increasing demand and people living in country areas are suffering for longer with increased response times compared to those living in urban areas.

“Peter Gutwein and Sarah Courtney’s inaction is putting people’s lives at risk and I am calling on them to show some respect for the people of the Derwent Valley and address this serious situation before it is too late.”