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Industry Research : Ambulance Response Times Fall
Ambulance response times in Perth are getting worse, including the most urgent callouts, according to St John Ambulance's annual report.
But the service defended the results, saying times were now improving because of State Government funding to employ more paramedics and call-centre staff.
In 2010-11, metropolitan ambulance response times were their worst in more than a decade with all three categories of urgency missing the required 90 per cent target.
Only 85.2 per cent of priority one calls were seen to within the mandated 15 minutes and 82 per cent of urgent calls were answered within the recommended 25 minutes. Just 74.3 per cent of non-urgent calls were dealt with within 60 minutes.
The report said the capacity and availability of ambulances, which was still inadequate last financial year, controlled response times.
But priority one response times improved in July, reaching 87.2 per cent, and would stay on the mend because of extra Government funding since last year.
In April, the Government agreed to fund an extra 309 ambulance paramedics and officers over four years, as well as another 12 ambulances and 10 patient transport vehicles over three years.
The $88 million upgrade was in response to a damning review in 2009 that found serious gaps in the organisation, including major inadequacies at its call centre.
It came after media reports which raised concerns about the controversial deaths of several patients in the care of the ambulance service.
Chief executive Tony Ahern said yesterday he was confident response times would hit the 90 per cent target over the next two years.
"The times had been deteriorating for some time before the new funding came on board last year so I don't think it would have been possible to turn around the figures until now," he said.
He conceded adverse reports about the service not coping had led to "horror stories" about people being reluctant to call for an ambulance.
"We heard about people who thought they were having a heart attack but didn't call us because they thought the service was under too much pressure," Mr Ahern said. "That is not something we would ever want to happen again."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Monday, October 17, 2011