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Paramedics meet a steep increase in patient demand

November 1, 2019 | in News

The number of Victorians experiencing a health emergency surged 12 per cent over the past three months, according to September quarter performance data.

Ambulance Victoria paramedics attended 78,130 Code 1 emergency cases in the months of July, August and September 2019, up from 69,753 Code 1 patients for the same period last year.

In the face of surging demand in caseload volume and complexity, 83.3 per cent of Code 1 patients received an ambulance within 15 minutes in the September quarter, down 0.5 per cent on the same period last year. The average response time to Code 1 cases was 11 minutes and 19 seconds – nine seconds slower than a year ago.

Ambulance Victoria’s revised Clinical Response Model delivered more effective management of Triple Zero calls. However, the quarter also recorded an increase in the proportion of emergency cases requiring hospitalisation.

Ambulance Victoria CEO Tony Walker said the long and prevalent 2019 flu season contributed to increased patient demand and hospital attendance.

“It is a testament to our people, Victorian Government investment in our ambulance service, and recent reforms to our Clinical Response Model, that a 12 per cent increase in Code 1 caseload this quarter has resulted in only a slight decline in response performance,” Associate Professor Walker said.

“Our Clinical Response Model is helping us better identify and dispatch paramedics to emergencies and safely refer other Triple Zero callers to alternative care.

“At the same time, the data, analytics and insights we now use are helping us to better plan and manage our ambulances in real time, to adjust with actual and forecast demand.

“We know that the winter flu season accounted for a spike in respiratory and cardiac cases requiring emergency attendance and addition to hospital.

“Simultaneously, we experienced an increase in the proportion of emergency cases requiring hospitalisation, increasing the burden on hospital emergency departments and the time ambulances are spending at hospitals to transfer patients. Clearly, this impacts ambulance availability and, therefore, our response times.”

“Ambulance Victoria has a unique role in working across the health system, and we are continuing to work with Government and health services to improve hospital transfers so that ambulances can be more available to respond to our community’s health emergencies.”

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