CONSTITUENCY QUESTION & RESPONSE | AMBULANCE RESPONSE TIMES
Mr Melhem (Western Metropolitan): My question is to Minister Mikakos. Could the minister please update the Council on how the Andrews Labor government is ensuring residents north-west of Melbourne are getting faster access to life-saving ambulance services?
Ms Mikakos (Northern Metropolitan—Minister for Health, Minister for Ambulance Services): I want to thank the member for his question and for his continued advocacy for improved life‑saving health services in Melbourne’s west and right across the north-west of Melbourne. The Andrews Labor government is getting things done, and it is delivering to every part of the state, including to Melbourne’s north-west. Last week I joined our new member for Melton, Steve McGhie, to kick off construction of the new $3 million Bacchus Marsh ambulance branch on Gisborne Road. I want to acknowledge the member for Melton’s lifelong advocacy and work in supporting our paramedics in his previous role at the ambulance union. The current branch of the Bacchus Marsh ambulance station was built back in the 1960s and is currently too small to meet the needs of our hardworking paramedics. I had the opportunity to meet with some very excited paramedics who are very much looking forward to this new facility. It will be built to provide a spacious and cutting‑edge new branch that will feature a five-bay garage, four rest and recline rooms, training facilities and improved security and staff car parking. When the branch opens later this year it will be home to more than 40 paramedics, providing 24-hour coverage and offering plenty of space for the ambulance service to grow into the future. As the member well knows, our government promised to end the ambulance crisis back in 2014, and that is in fact what we have done. We have delivered the biggest ever investment into our ambulance service in Victoria’s history, and in fact we have the best response times in ambulance Victoria’s history. Just recently—and I have talked about this in the house before—we had fabulous results in the last quarter, with the best ever response times of 83.9 per cent of code 1 matters being responded to within that critical 15 minutes, and we know that every minute and every second does matter. I want to commend all of our hardworking paramedics for delivering this great result. Bacchus Marsh has seen particularly improved response times, with 88.8 per cent of ambulance arriving within 15 minutes, up from 79.3 per cent a year earlier. The average response time for code 1 matters in Bacchus Marsh over the same period has improved significantly—from 11 minutes and 30 seconds to 9 minutes and 49 seconds, so well done to our Bacchus Marsh paramedics. This contrasts hugely with what we saw under the previous Liberal government, where they went to war with the paramedics but they also had the worst response times on the Australian mainland. I want to congratulate Ambulance Victoria on their hard work as we kick off, together with the Victorian Health and Human Services Building Authority, this important project that will deliver a state-of-the-art ambulance station at Bacchus Marsh for the Bacchus Marsh community to ensure that they get access to those life‑saving healthcare services that they need in the local community. I know that the member will continue to take very keen interest in the continued rollout of our huge healthcare investment right across Western Metropolitan Region.
Mr Melhem: Could the minister please outline what additional measures the government has taken to ensure residents north-west of Melbourne have access to life‑saving ambulance services closer to home?
Ms Mikakos: Thank you to the member for his further question in relation to this matter. We are ensuring that every part of the state can get the benefit of this improved investment. We have already invested $500 million in our ambulance services and we have delivered on our 450 paramedics, as well as new and upgraded ambulance stations across the state. But we are going to build on that further. We have committed a further $109 million to help paramedics reach patients in life-threatening situations sooner. What that will mean is that we will recruit a further 90 paramedics, convert 15 single-crew stations to dual-crew stations to benefit rural and regional Victoria, build new stations and get 23 new vehicles on the road, because we know that it is only Labor that invests in our ambulance services.