AMBULANCES in Bathurst are taking longer to arrive at the scene of emergencies according to new figures this week.
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The Healthcare Quarterly report, covering January to March 2022, identified the median response time of Bathurst ambulances had increased by one minute compared to the 2021 first quarter.
The report revealed the median response time in Bathurst for a life-threatening [P1A] situation was eight minutes, up from seven the previous year, the median response time to an emergency [P1] situation is 13 minutes, up from 11, and the wait time for urgent [P2] calls is 18 minutes, up from 15.
Despite the increase, Bathurst ambulance officers are still responding quicker than the state medians of nine minutes for P1A calls, 16 minutes for P1 calls and 27 minutes for P2 calls.
Speaking on the figures Australian Paramedics Association (APA) (NSW) executive committee member David Truscott said while COVID has become an excuse for many things, the increase in response times has been an identifiable issue long before the pandemic hit.
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"Our health care has faced extraordinary challenges, even in this last quarter, but they can't exclusively be attributed to COVID," Mr Truscott said.
"Our response times have been growing longer and longer consistently over the past five years and that is evidenced in this data by this report.
"It's a long term trend, not a short term issue and in an emergency every single minute's important."
Mr Truscott identified one of the main issues being paramedics getting delayed with patients at the emergency department.
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With hospital wait times also increasing, this means the paramedics are waiting longer with patients, unable to attend to other emergencies.
Mr Truscott said one solution would be to invest in more paramedic specialists in the region.
With skills similar to a registered nurse, these extended care paramedics can treat patients for a broader range of things at home.
Situations like dislocated limbs, complex wounds and inserting catheters for urinary retention would traditionally see patients taken to hospital, but these are skills that paramedic specialists can perform at the person's house.
They can also provide patients with a referral to follow up with a doctor or fracture clinic if needed.
Not only would this free up the paramedics to attend to other calls more quickly, but it would also ease the congestion in hospitals.
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"If we are serious about improving response times the government needs to meaningfully invest in our paramedic specialists," Mr Truscott said.
"We're pretty excited to see that they have announced the 1850 or so new paramedics, but putting more staff on-road won't ease one of the biggest problems we're having which is these bottlenecks in emergency departments.
"Paramedic specialists can treat patients at home and leave them at home which ultimately would reduce strain on the health care system and avoid trips to hospital," he said.
The Healthcare Quarterly figures, which were released this week, also revealed the one minute increase to an eight minute median response time for P1A life-threatening situations matched Orange, Mudgee and Lithgow's response times.
While Dubbo's times remained at seven minutes, seeing no increase from the January to March period in 2021.
Longer wait times was an issue identified across the boarder, with patients in the emergency department and booked in for elective surgeries also waiting increasingly longer period of time to be seen.
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