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Greens Announce Move for Ambulance Ramping Inquiry

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Monday, 7 August 2023

Tags: Health, Health Crisis, Tasmanian Health Service, Ambulance Ramping, Ambulances

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Leader

Ambulance ramping has spiralled out control under nearly a decade of Liberal government. Despite recent desperate calls for action from healthcare staff, tragic instances of the harm it has caused, damning criticism from the Coroner, rapidly worsening statistics and community outrage, the Premier is doing nothing. 

By their refusal to accept the worsening situation and take action to reverse it, the Liberals are putting the Tasmanian community at greater risk and healthcare staff under greater strain.

Enough is enough. The Greens cannot stand by as the Liberals continue to normalise their increasingly dangerous hospital mismanagement. 

This week in Parliament we will move to establish an inquiry into ambulance ramping in Tasmania - to examine the causes and effects, and the changes that would make things better.

Only a few years ago ambulance ramping was fairly rare in our hospitals, but that situation has rapidly got worse. Every year the Liberals say they’re doing what they can on this issue, but since 2015 ramping has been going backwards. 

Now, two out of five people who go to hospital in an ambulance end up being ramped - for an average of two hours.

Instead of admitting the seriousness of this problem and taking urgent, ambitious action, the Rockliff Government has tried to cover up the problem - and resorted to misleading people about how bad things have become.

The data shows the amount of ramping is getting worse fast. We know from people’s individual tragic stories, and from healthcare staff, that patients’ lives are being put at risk by being ramped. We don’t know the true toll of ramping however, because the government has repeatedly refused to collect or release information about the number of medical emergencies and deaths occurring on the ramp.

The impact of ramping isn’t only limited to people unfortunate enough to be waiting to get admitted to hospital. With so many ambulances parked for hours at hospitals, paramedics are increasingly not available to respond in time to calls for help. We know Tasmanians have to wait longer for help than anywhere else in the country when they call triple zero in a medical emergency.

Jeremy Rockliff appears to have become too distracted by his billion-dollar stadium project to confront this serious issue. The new Health Minister Guy Barnett has also not signalled he accepts the gravity of the situation, or the urgent need for his state-level intervention. 

Given the Premier’s unwillingness to act, we see a productive way forward in establishing a parliamentary inquiry. This would expose the terrible state of ramping and the patient and workforce harms it is causing.

By allowing public submissions and hearings, an inquiry would allow patient and healthcare staff to give voice to their experiences. By looking closely and comprehensively at ramping, and making strong recommendations for actions on both the causes and effects, we believe an inquiry would help force this out-of-touch government to finally take action. 

Change is possible, and for the sake of all Tasmanians we are proposing this inquiry to elevate public conversation about the serious state of ramping, and to uncover the positive changes we know could make our public health system safer and better. 

An explainer on ambulance ramping, including key statistics, is available here: