State Member for Wallsend, Ms Sonia Hornery MP, has called on the Health Minister to urgently reassess the paramedic crewing levels in the Hunter, after extensive delays saw a nursing home patient with a broken hip wait six hours for an ambulance to arrive.
In 2019, the Health Minister announced that an extra 750 paramedics and call centre staff would be employed over the next four years, but so far the new paramedics employed across the Hunter has not kept up with the numbers of staff that have left the industry.
Currently across the lower Hunter on a Friday night, only nine cars are working to service a vast area and population. Last Friday night saw dozens of jobs queued up and simply not enough ambulances to cover them. As a result, a patient in a local nursing home was forced to wait for six hours in excruciating pain until an ambulance arrived.
“It simply isn’t good enough that we have patients waiting six hours for an ambulance to arrive,” said Ms Hornery.
“Our population is growing and ageing. Our hospitals are expanding their capacity, yet we are doing nothing to increase the number of local ambulances and paramedics.
“Paramedics are telling me that they are being stretched to breaking point, with many staff working multiple overtime shifts per week or being sent to cover staff shortages in other regions.
“We saw recently paramedics from Newcastle sent to the Central Coast to complete extra work following the completion of their 12 hour shift locally.
“This is now a regular occurrence, which poses a risk to community safety. Fewer ambulances means much longer response times and puts patients’ lives at risk.
“I think the community would be horrified to know that only nine ambulances are operating on a Friday night to cover such a large area and population.
“More resources are needed in the Hunter area to ensure that service delivery to the community can be met even during peak periods.
“I will be raising this issue in Parliament today and have written to the Health Minister, again, requesting more resources be allocated to the Hunter, in particular to stations that cover the Wallsend electorate at Beresfield, Birmingham Gardens and Cardiff,” Ms Hornery said.