South Australian Government Starts Delivering on Election Promise of More Ambulance Officers

South Australian Government Starts Delivering on Election Promise of More Ambulance Officers
General view of the Modbury Hospital in Adelaide, South Australia on July 21, 2021 . (Photo by Kelly Barnes/Getty Images)
Steve Milne

The South Australian (SA) government has begun its recruitment of the 350 additional ambulance officers promised at the state election in March.

A new intern cohort of 32 paramedic graduates are set to start work on Monday, the first of 278 new paramedics and 72 new ambulance officers to be added to the SA ambulance service over four years.

The $124 million (US$89 million) investment came as part of last week’s budget release and is one of the measures the Labor government is employing to relieve pressure on ambulance staff, improve currently poor response times, and fix the state’s ramping crisis.

Ramping refers to when paramedics are required to continue to care for patients instead of handing over clinical responsibility to the emergency department (ED).

According to Labor, ramping across metro hospitals increased by 485 percent over the four years of the former Liberal government, which was defeated in the March election.

Premier Peter Malinauskas said that before the election, ambulance staff and the community called for more ambulance resources.

“Labor listened to the community and to our hard-working ambos, and we are delivering the largest frontline boost ever to SA Ambulance Service,” he said.

“We are recruiting 350 more ambos, over and above attrition, and we’re already pushing ahead with recruitment call-outs for experienced paramedics, interns and Triple Zero call takers.”

According to Labor’s plan, 99 new paramedics, ambulance officers, and 000 emergency call takers will have started by mid-2023.

This will include 77 paramedics across both metro and regional areas, 12 more officers for the Emergency Support service, providing coverage for medium-urgency cases that often wait long periods for care, and 10 additional 000 call takers in the Emergency Operations Centre, which is under pressure with increasing 000 calls.

Also, as part of the State Budget, a $187.2 million investment will see the construction of five new ambulance stations, four-station rebuilds, ten station upgrades, and a new SA Ambulance headquarters.

“We are also renewing their ageing stations to provide ambos with facilities that support them to do their job,” Malinauskas said.

Meanwhile, the SA government has also committed to employing 100 extra doctors and 300 additional nurses, as well as upgrading hospitals and opening up more beds, including mental health ones, to reduce bed blocks in EDs, thus reducing the likelihood of ramping.

Health Minister Chris Picton said the government’s commitment to putting on additional ambulance staff “builds on our commitment to 554 more hospital and community beds which will provide the capacity needed for patients to get off the ramp and into the care they require.”

Steve is an Australian reporter based in Sydney covering sport, the arts, and politics. He is an experienced English teacher, qualified nutritionist, sports enthusiast, and amateur musician. Contact him at [email protected].
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