Ambulance Services cuts

Melina BATH (Eastern Victoria) (15:28): Well, I might just take the tone down a little bit and not stand on a soapbox and feign huge distress and feign a whole lot of things, going back in history into the last century.

I would like to put on record some of the stats. These are statistics that are available on code 1 performances in my Eastern Victoria electorate. Most unfortunately, on this metric, code 1 performance data, the ambulance service has gone backwards. We are not receiving our ambulances in a timely manner, and the facts speak for themselves.

Let me provide this data to the house. In Bass Coast the performance data for the third quarter in 2018 was 63.9 per cent of the time; in Bass Coast in December this last year just gone, 59.1 per cent. Baw Baw was 72.9 per cent in 2018 – it has gone backwards to 64.6 per cent. I will continue on: in Latrobe Valley it was 78.1 per cent code 1 performance, and it has deteriorated to 73.5 per cent. Wellington was 57 per cent, and now it has gone back to 52.7 per cent. East Gippsland was 59 per cent; East Gippsland last month, 53 per cent. South Gippsland was 50.8 per cent, and it has gone backwards to 47.8 per cent.

These are facts, and this is showing how significantly stretched and overreached and quite frankly lacking in state government support our ambulance services are, and therefore there are looking to be those potential budget cuts and indeed cuts to the MICA units. And I note that in Ms Crozier’s motion 294, which I support entirely, the second part expresses concern about the proposal by Ambulance Victoria to cut MICA units from regional communities in my electorate, as specified in some of those sadly deteriorating statistics of Bairnsdale, Sale, and also Wonthaggi, and also at that potential to cut first-responder units in the Morwell region as well.

Our litmus test for a service being operational and being well and healthy in itself is the lack of constituents coming in our door. Unfortunately in the case of ambulance services – and we can throw ESTA in there for another headache about response times as well – I have had multiple people in recent times really frustrated with the services that are not serving the people of Victoria.

I look at one of the recent instances involving a constituent and their son: a young man who was a farmhand, a farm operator – and good on him for doing that career – had to be ambulanced to the eye and ear hospital. He waited 8 hours –8 hours – to be transported in pain and was eventually dropped at the door by a taxi at a cost to the government of somewhere around $1000. This is a young man working in an important industry and he has an injury – 8 hours. Whether or not that could have got to the serious point where he actually lost his eye, this is not what our young people need nor what we expect when we pick up the phone in an emergency situation and call for help. Interestingly enough and unfortunately when his time in hospital was terminated he had to find his own way home. Thankfully, he has parents who are very important and very supportive and were able to support him and get him back home safely.

Another thing that is reflected in my electorate and relates to certainly the Morwell electorate is this funding of a Morwell ambulance station. There was a big sign up in the Morwell zone, in the place where it was to be built in English Street, and the sign has actually faded and fallen over. ‘We’re going to build this new ambulance station’, and it just seems to me that there are a lot of promises made, and certainly many people in our electorates are not receiving those estimations of those high promises.

There have been others: I know recently a gentleman was riding his pushbike and fell off his pushbike and was told that he could wait for a period of time – do not be moved, but wait for a period of time – and it was a lengthy period of time until an ambulance came. Indeed his skin was punctured by the broken leg – a compound fracture would be the technical term – and he was told to wait exactly where he was. Well, he broke his leg in the middle of a road, so how sensible was it that he was told that, just due to shortages and stress.

Now, I must say I have the unfortunate – or fortunate – experience of having firsthand knowledge of being on the inside of an ambulance a few years ago, and I cannot speak of it highly enough. When we, as human beings, are in our most vulnerable state – all my experiences have been very positive and calming, with reassuring professionalism. And only recently I was speaking to somebody who was a patient transfer operator. They have a very uncomfortable position. Whereas we, as those being transported, are always in a comfortable position, they are often bumping up and down. They often – and I am sure it is a common reflection – do not have lunch that day because they need to be in one spot, travel long distances in the country and get to where they needed to be.

In short, the government I think has been derelict in its duties in relation to supporting our state emergency services. We have seen it in the CFA and we have seen it in our hospital systems, where people cannot get a bed to save themselves. Thankfully, in the country all of the staff do the most amazing work to pool and to find solutions, but they are working uphill. I support Ms Crozier’s motion in the house today.