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NSW Health

NSW records worst ambulance response rate in a decade

NSW Ambulance response times are the worst they have been in at least a decade while the NSW Government has cut spending to the service, according to the latest Productivity Commission report.

The average wait time for the most urgent cases in the 2020/21 financial year were one full minute longer than the previous year in NSW, up to 12.3 minutes from 11.3 minutes – again exceeding the accepted target of 10 minutes.

It is the sixth slowest ambulance response time for urgent cases in capital cities across the country behind the ACT at 9 minutes, WA at 9.4 minutes, the NT at 9.5 minutes, Victoria at 10 minutes and Queensland at 11.3 minutes. 

The report also found spending on NSW Ambulance went backwards at $140.9 per person in the population from $142.05 in the previous financial year. 

The NSW Ambulance service remains critically under-resourced per head of population with only the St John’s Ambulance in Western Australia having fewer paramedics per 100,000 people.

“The NSW Government’s decision to spend less on paramedics during the worst pandemic in 100 years is incomprehensible,” said Health Services Union NSW Secretary Gerard Hayes. 

“Unprecedented pressure and fewer resources is a recipe for disaster. Wait times for urgent cases have blown out across the board and it’s the people of NSW and paramedics that are suffering.

“Ambulance response times can be the difference between life or death for a patient needing urgent medical treatment. 

“Paramedics are at breaking point because there are simply not enough of them. 

“The NSW Government needs to stop cutting funding to the service, employ more paramedics and also retain the ones we already have. 

“That will only happen if their wages reflect the skills and productivity our paramedics contribute to the health and hospital system.”

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