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Ambulance Ramping

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 16 August 2022

Tags: Ambulance Ramping, Health, Hospitals


News that a woman died at the Launceston General Hospital after being ramped for nine hours was tragic but, sadly, not surprising. Thanks to your Government's underfunding and mismanagement of health care and, more recently, your negligent approach to COVID 19, ramping keeps getting worse. It is so bad that this week paramedics will walk off the job.

Data from Victoria shows patients ramped for longer than 17 minutes are at greater risk of death and reattendance to hospital. At the LGH and the RHH, one-third of patients arriving by ambulance are ramped for more than 30 minutes. In this environment, harm and tragedy are unavoidable. Victorian estimates are that the preventable death toll from ambulance ramping there is over 70 people a year. What is the number of Tasmanians who are suffering this same preventable fate each year? When are you going to put the money that is needed into our health system to stop the causes of ramping instead of tinkering at the edges?

Mr Tucker - One minute.

Members interjecting.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Mr Speaker. I ask you to rein in government backbenchers who make a joke out of ramping and deaths in the health system.

Mr SPEAKER - It is not a point of order, Ms O'Connor. It is unparliamentary to comment about the time that has been allotted to either asking a question or, in fact, answering a question. I will manage that. The question has been put to the Premier so I will allow him to answer.



Mr Speaker, I thank Dr Woodruff for her question. I commence my answer by thanking very much our hardworking paramedics and all the staff at Ambulance Tasmania who provide critical medical care to Tasmanians night and day.

To your point, we have a strong record of investing in Ambulance Tasmania. In fact, as at June 2022, we have employed an additional 270 full-time equivalents within Ambulance Tasmania since we came to government. Investment is really important - investment in resources, investment in new vehicles, of which we have all our new vehicles online - I stand to be corrected around our commitment.

Investment in people, equipment, infrastructure and vehicles is important, but also system improvement is important. You point to an access and flow issue and I will come to that in just a moment, but I want to point to the significant reforms and system improvements around secondary triage, extended care paramedics, and the recent deployment of nine community paramedics across the state and the PACER team as well, which I have spoken about many times and appears to be working very well.

They are all good system improvements that are working along with our 270 full-time equivalent extra that we have put in to our health system in terms of paramedics since we came to government. We are also providing $3 million for our health and wellbeing program for all frontline emergency service workers, which is crucially important.

In addition to that, we have also invested in several hospital-based strategies to facilitate emergency department throughput, patient admission and discharge processes and pre-hospital care strategies as well, including the introduction of the patient flow manager electronic information system and the creation of integrated operation centres in our major hospitals.

I have mentioned statewide access and flow - I will come to that now. We have established the statewide access and patient flow program to develop a system-wide framework for integrating, delivering and monitoring programs of work aimed at improving patient access and flow across the state. The federal government has a role to play here as well. I urge those opposite, if they are allowed to do so, to advocate for Tasmania in the 50/50 funding split that all states and state premiers -

Members interjecting.

Mr SPEAKER - Order. You were doing so well up to that point, too.

Ms White - He incited it, Mr Speaker.

Mr ROCKLIFF - All state premiers and health ministers are advocating for that 50/50 funding split between the Commonwealth and state governments. We are in that advocacy space. I urge you, if you are allowed to do so, to advocate as well for improving and supporting a fairer funding model going into our health system in Tasmania.

Dr Woodruff - Premier, do you even know how many people are dying on the ramps?

Mr SPEAKER - Order, Dr Woodruff.

Mr ROCKLIFF - As I say, the federal government has a role to play here. The large numbers of patients who are medically fit for discharge, however -

Dr Woodruff - You never said anything about the federal government for eight years.

Mr SPEAKER - Order, Dr Woodruff.

Mr ROCKLIFF - are awaiting NDIS supports or residential aged care placements before they can leave hospital. I have raised this with the federal minister and look forward to working with the federal government to find a solution. When it comes to access and flow, we have far too many people within our hospital system who are aged and should be in a more appropriate setting such as in an aged care facility; NDIS participants in sub-acute care; it is causing bed block. This is a federal government responsibility. We will play our role, but the federal government also needs to step up and play their role. I can point to significant system improvement and innovative reforms in Ambulance Tasmania and paramedics. I can also point to, Dr Woodruff, significant investment - including the 270 FTE across Ambulance Tasmania.