The Facts:

Ambulances were ramped outside SA hospitals for over 2,800 hours in the month of May this year alone.

– In it’s first 2 years the Marshall Liberal Government cut $11 million from SA Ambulance Govt funding. This is cleary demonstrated in the Independant Productivity Commission’s 2021 Report.

– Ambulances are taking longer to arrive at life threatening emergencies, with response times now 15% worse than in 20172018.

Ramping has tripled under the Marshall Liberal Government. In February 2018 prior to the last State Election patients were ramped for 837 hours. In May and October of 2021 patients were ramped for 2,800 hours.

– There has been no additional ambulances funded by the Marshall Liberal Government for our regional centers.

– Two patients have passed away while waiting for an ambulance to arrive with their cases subject to a Coronial Inquest.

– An SA Ambulance Service Report found that 10 patients between July to November 2020 received a delayed ambulance response which resulted in a ‘Poor Patient outcome (including death) or significant risk to patient’. 28 further patients were found to have been put potentially at risk.

Why is this happening?

– The answer is simple, a lack of ambulance resources to meet demand and a lack of bed capacity in our hospitals.

– These two issues mean that when our hospitals are full, ambulances are ramped outside of the Emergency Department depriving the community of what few ambulances there are.

– Ramping must be resolved but it is not the sole problem – even in times of no ramping SA Ambulance are unable to meet their own response time targets.

– Ramping occurs when there is bed-block of patients ‘stuck’ in emergency departments waiting for a hospital bed. Bed capacity across our health system must be increased. The Australasian College of Emergency Medicine have clearly indicated this – yet the Marshall Govt are not listening.

– Many of our regional communities have outgrown their local ambulance resourcing and are in desperate need of adequate ambulance crewing.

– The AEA wrote an Open Letter to all South Australians on behalf of our members in March 2021, and yet there has been insufficient action to resolve these issues.

What is needed?

– The AEA is urging current and future Governments to adopt 20 recommendations including the recruitment of over 370 ambos including Paramedics, Ambulance Officers & Communication Personnel which will create 11 additional ambulances for metropolitan Adelaide and 16 for regional communities. The document, ‘Building Resilence into SA Ambualnce‘ including all the recommendations is publicly accessible and viewable here.

– There needs to be a substantial increase to in-patient beds and the implementation of a mandatory 30-minute transfer of care policy to end the practice of ramping.

– Hundreds of more ambos are required across the state over and above what the Govt have already announced.

– A sustainable funding stream needs to be establised to ensure activity based funding of the ambulance service.

OzSage are calling on the urgent recruitment of paramedic graduates to prepare for COVID once the states borders open. This will provide surge capacity and reduce burnout for our members who are already not coping.

Dispelling myths

MARSHALL SPIN: State they will have hired an extra 258 more ambos by June 2022.
FACT: The last 24/7 Emergency Ambulance crew was deployed at Seaford in 2017. Since then the only new ambos that have been hired have primarily replaced retiring officers – they have not resulted in more ambulance crews.

Marshall with less than a year from the upcoming State Election promised just three 24/7 ambulances for all of Adelaide by March 2022 – this is nowhere near enough to meet the needs of the community and many more are needed – and none have been funded for regional centres.

MARSHALL SPIN: Wants to reduce ambos shift lengths from 12 hours to 10 & 8 hours.
FACT: Ambos already work 8, 10 & 12 hour shifts. Appropriate breaks prevent fatigue and appropriate staffing enables breaks. Ambos support and have already agreed to some new roster models for additional ambulances, which will increase roster diversity. Ambos want to keep 12-hour shifts as they provide the best work/life balance. 12 hour shifts mean ambos work 4 days on, and have 4 days off for respite, for what is a challenging and unique role.

MARSHALL SPIN: Wants to remove a workplace condition where ambos take their break at their home ambulance station.
FACT: Ambulances return to their home station to reset the coverage for their local communities. If all ambulances had their break anywhere, local communities would be left uncovered. Ambos remain available to respond to emergencies whilst driving and during their breaks. There are many psychological benefits for ambos returning to their local teams for what is an extremely demanding role.

MARSHALL SPIN: Says they are improving ramping by expanding Emergency Departments.
FACT: In May, June & July 2021 – Ramping has climbed to the highest levels in the states history. Patients sat waiting in ambulances for over 2,800 hours in the month of May this year alone, depriving the community of ambulances. Ramping has significantly worsened under Marshall without any sign of improvement.