Ambulance Victoria: State faces record demand for third straight year

Ambulance records have been smashed in Victoria for the third quarter running, data released on Saturday reveals.

In a statement Ambulance Victoria said Covid, sicker patients resulting from deferred care and staff furloughing had created the record demand for ambulances, which they said had increased 16 per cent from the previous quarter.

The data revealed that from April to June this year ambulances responded to 97,928 ‘code one’ cases across the state – an astonishing increase of more than 13,000 from the same time last year.

Ambulance Victoria said the number was also nearly 5000 more than from January to March this year.

The average response rate across the state was 15 minutes and 49 seconds, the data reveals.

Felicity Topp, the interim chief executive at Ambulance Victoria, said Covid continued to present a risk.

“There are no signs of demand slowing down through winter. Covid-19 continues to pose a high risk to Victorians and will continue to do so for some time,” Ms Topp said on Saturday.

To cope with the demand Ms Topp said Ambulance Victoria had overseen a huge expansion of their number of paramedics and triage services, as well as encouraging the use of the Victorian Virtual Emergency Department.

She said a record 700 paramedics were recruited last year, while 400 have already been recruited so far this year.

From April to June, more than 8000 patients were referred to the virtual emergency department, the data showed.

“If the patient does not appear to require immediate transport to the ED, paramedics are able to arrange a video consultation with an emergency physician or nurse practitioner to determine if care can be safely and effectively provided at home,” Ms Topp said.

She said that “thousands of patients” had been treated at home from this method.

Originally published as Victoria’s ambulance crisis sparks warning due to ‘extremely high’ demand