Ambulance delays caused by non-emergency patients

Richard Laycock 26 September 2017 NEWS

Sign outside a hospital

“Lives are put at risk when paramedics are stuck doing routine non-emergency jobs."

Regional emergency services are being put under tremendous strain due to non-emergency patients, according to the Australian Paramedics Association (NSW).

“This is not the best use of highly skilled professional paramedics and by failing to provide non-emergency transport services, the NSW government is placing the public at risk,” APA (NSW) delegate James Kydd said in a statement.

In Sydney, the NSW government provides non-emergency patient transport services but no such services are available in regional areas, meaning those who live in the country need to rely on the ambulance service.

The paramedics are being used to ferry patients to and from home for various treatments including X-rays, CT scans and other non-emergency reasons.

“Highly trained paramedics are being used to take otherwise well patients for X-rays,” Kydd said.

Tying up paramedics in non-emergency situations can have dire effects in the case of life-threatening situations.

“Lives are put at risk when paramedics are stuck doing routine non-emergency jobs and not being able to focus on emergency cases,” he said.

And it's not just lives, ambulance transport in NSW is expensive.

An ambulance in NSW has a call-out fee of $364 plus an additional charge of $3.29 per kilometre.

A recent finder.com.au survey found that 8% of respondents had caught public transport to avoid the high costs of ambulance travel.

The survey also found that 25% of those surveyed believed that Medicare would cover the cost of ambulance travel.

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