Macarthur paramedics call for more resources as region continues to grow

"With Macarthur being a region of growth, it is important to ensure our community have access to ambulance services when they need assistance."
"With Macarthur being a region of growth, it is important to ensure our community have access to ambulance services when they need assistance."

"Every minute counts when a life is at risk."

Macarthur paramedic and Australian Paramedics Association (APA NSW) delegate Anthony Redford wants NSW Ambulance to answer concerns it has failed to provide a plan which addresses the increasing demands for service in the region.

He said slowing response times were putting patientss lives at risk.

"Response times suffer due to understaffing and misuse of ambulance resources," he said.

"It is concerning that paramedics are still being sent to non-emergency work, such as non-urgent patient transport.

"When we are tasked with jobs like this, we are taken away from our communities that need paramedics in emergency situations.

"In the most recent quarter, 45.2 per cent of the jobs attended by paramedics were categorised as an emergency, which is less than half.

"With Macarthur being a region of growth, it is important to ensure our community has access to ambulance services when they need assistance."

New findings released by the NSW Bureau of Health Information (BHI) for the January to March quarter show that ambulance response times are on the rise.

The median response time to priority 1 ambulance calls, or life-threatening situations, in Camden has risen by almost a minute.

The median response time for calls in Campbelltown has also risen by almost a minute however the response times in Wollondilly have remained unchanged compared to the same quarter last year.

In Wollondilly, roughly 70 per cent of callers wait for more than 15 minutes for paramedics to attend to these emergency calls.

Mr Redford said APA NSW members had been fighting for more paramedics for a long time.

"We are stretched beyond our limit daily to meet the growing calls for help from our communities," he said.

"The introduction of 700 additional paramedics, known as the State Wide Enhancement Program, was intended to improve service delivery for patients, including faster response times, but we have not seen the results.

"The outcome is that new paramedics are being used to fill existing gaps in rosters, sometimes at other stations, rather than enhance coverage to communities that desperately need it."

NSW Ambulance responded to an increased number of emergency calls during this quarter, when compared with the same quarter in 2019, including a 5.8 per cent increase in the Camden area, a 7.5 per cent increase in the Campbelltown area and a 6.3 per cent increase in the Wollondilly area.

The director of data analytics, assistant commissioner Peter Payne, said compared to previous results, NSW Ambulance had performed well in the outer south west areas, considering the extra operational pressures directly related to the bushfire crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic.

"It is important to note that these particular reporting areas also encompass semi-rural and remote geographic areas and the longer distances and travel times are factors in the results in these and other similar areas throughout NSW," he said.

"We acknowledge a slight increase in priority 1 median response times for Campbelltown and Camden which is in part due to the additional activity stated previously.

"It is pleasing however to see that the median priority 1 response time for Picton has remained unchanged, and despite a slight increase of 30 seconds for these areas combined, the most life-threatening priority 1A incidents continue to remain within the established 10-minute response time target.

"Staff and patient safety is imperative, and as such, we take every precaution possible to ensure this remains our highest priority, including the extra time for paramedics to follow mandatory procedures of applying personal protective equipment during the Covid-19 pandemic."

However this is not the first time locals and paramedics have called for better resources in Macarthur.

Politicians have been pushing for an ambulance station in Oran Park since 2015.

And just last year Macquarie Fields-based paramedic and South-West Sydney Health Services Union Sub Branch representative Tess Oxley said the rapid population increase and rise in development in Macarthur was putting lives at risk.

"We've definitely noticed it's getting more difficult to navigate through the newer estates and the main arterial roads in Macarthur," she told the Advertiser in 2019.

"We definitely need wider roads and more access points when new estates are being developed.

"But more importantly we need more paramedics on the road."