Gippsland ambulance servicing faster

AMBULANCE Victoria says data shows that paramedics are getting to the most critically ill patients faster in Gippsland than they were a year ago, including Wellington Shire.

Acting Gippsland Regional and Clinical Operations Director Paul James said performance improved due to more paramedics and people in the community accessing alternative and ‘virtual’ care services.

“July to September saw ambulances across Victoria called to 96,594 Code 1 cases – 2002 more than a year ago – making it the fourth busiest quarter in our history,” Mr James said.

“Despite this high demand, ambulances arrived at ‘lights and sirens’ cases on average 23 seconds faster than a year ago and 52 seconds faster than the previous quarter.

“Our dedicated paramedics do an amazing job delivering world-class care, and Victoria has best cardiac arrest survival rates in Australia.”

From July to September, paramedics across Victoria responded to 66 per cent of Code 1 cases within the state-wide target of 15 minutes – up from 61.7 per cent for the previous three months and 64.3 per cent a year ago. As a result, the state-wide average response time to Code 1 emergencies dropped to 15 minutes and 12 seconds.

Compared to a year ago, in the Gippsland Region, performance has improved in the Wellington, Latrobe and East Gippsland Local Government Areas (LGAs).

In the Gippsland Region:

The average response time in Wellington to Code 1 patients was 18 minutes and 42 seconds, an improvement from 19 minutes and nine seconds a year ago, and 20 minutes and eight seconds in the previous quarter;

Paramedics attended 86.3 per cent of Code 1 patients within 15 minutes in the Morwell major population centre – the second-best result in the state;

Across the Latrobe LGA, paramedics attended 73.8 per cent of Code 1 patients within 15 minutes – up from 72.3 per cent a year earlier and 71 per cent in the previous quarter, and;

Compared to the previous quarter, response times to Code 1 patients were one minute faster in the East Gippsland LGA.

Mr James said more paramedics were safely referring people to the Victorian Virtual Emergency Department (VVED), which is supporting patients to get the most appropriate care at home and easing pressure on the whole health system.

“This avoids unnecessary trips to hospital and helps us get back on the road quicker to attend more life-threating emergencies,” Mr James said.

“Since October 2021, paramedics have referred more than 47,000 patients to the VVED, while a further 2500 have been referred to the VVED following assessment by our Secondary Triage team.”

Ambulance Victoria Acting Chief Operations Officer Anthony Carlyon thanked the community for helping reduce demand by saving Triple Zero (000) for emergencies and accessing alternative care options for less urgent healthcare.

“There are lots of places to get timely, non-urgent health advice. If it is non-life-threatening, you can connect directly with emergency doctors and nurses at the VVED from anywhere in Victoria, at any time,” Mr Carlyon said.

“Other options also include your local Priority Primary Care Centre, your GP or pharmacist, or Nurse-On-Call on 1300 60 60 24.

“While ambulances are always provided to patients when required, about one in five calls to Triple Zero (000) do not need an emergency ambulance response.

“From July to September, 36,566 people who did not need an emergency ambulance were instead connected by paramedics and nurses in our Secondary Triage team to more appropriate care.

“Every call that isn’t an emergency puts significant strain on our crews to reach those who need us the most, which is why we’ve tripled the size of our Secondary Triage team.

“As a result, 500 or more cases every day are being safely matched to services that better suit their needs while also avoiding emergency dispatch.”

Mr Carlyon said the entire health system was working together to deliver the very best and safest care when and where it’s needed and improve ambulance availability across the state for emergencies.

“Ambulance Victoria and hospitals from across the state are members of the Timely Emergency Care Collaborative – a Department of Health project to improve patient flow and speed up the transfer of patients,” he said.