Alarming new quarterly data from Ambulance Victoria and the Victorian Agency for Health Information has painted a grim picture for those living in regional areas, with local ambulance wait times continuing to far exceed statewide averages.
Just over 30 per cent of ambulances in the Strathbogie Shire reached Ambulance Victoria’s 15-minute target response times for Code 1 emergencies, while within Benalla just 58 per cent of ambulances reached this target.
The statewide average for reaching this target sits at 66 per cent, far below Ambulance Victoria’s aims to have 85 per cent of responses reaching the 15-minute target.
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Member for Euroa, Annabelle Cleeland, said the Labor Government’s lack of support and investment in regional health was putting members of the community’s safety at risk.
“The issues within our ambulance services and response times are a symptom of a government that has neglected our healthcare system for too long,” Ms Cleeland said.
“The stark reality is that our regional health services are really struggling.
“Without further investment from Government, our regional health care system will continue to fail, and people will suffer.”
The Strathbogie Shire was one of the worst performing LGAs in the state when it came to ambulance response times, with median times for each significant ambulance category far exceeding the statewide average.
For both high priority, time critical incidents (priority 1), the Strathbogie Shire median wait time was 20.32 minutes, 50 per cent higher than the statewide average of 12.17 minutes.
When it comes to lights and sirens incidents (dispatch code 1), the Strathbogie Shire’s median time was 51 per cent worse than the statewide average of 12.05 minutes.
For life threatening incidents, the most recent data for July-September 2023 has the Mitchell Shire’s median wait times being 32 per cent longer than the statewide average.
In the previous quarter, the Mitchell Shire’s wait times were 42 per cent longer than the state-wide average, while Benalla’s wait times were a staggering 79 per cent longer with an average of 21.87 minutes.
“Every Victorian, irrespective of where they live, deserves quality healthcare— this is a fundamental right, not a luxury,” Ms Cleeland said.
“Three extra minutes of waiting for urgent support is an eternity in an emergency – this can be the difference between life and death.”
“Within my electorate of Euroa, failures within the triple-zero system and poor ambulance response times have genuinely been devastating for many individuals and their families.
“When I hear the Government talk about how fantastic Melbourne’s healthcare options and medical facilities are, I feel a need to remind them that this state is bigger than just the city.”