NSW Government will “consider” publishing ambulance data
THE NSW Government will "consider" publishing regular detailed NSW Ambulance performance data, Health Minister Jillian Skinner said.
The one-line response was made after a series of questions were put to the Minister regarding the apparent lack of transparency in NSW ambulance response times and claims by the Health Services Union the data is closely guarded because it would demonstrate a "severe lack of resourcing".
On Wednesday, the Northern Star published five examples of leaked response times in the Lismore area where patients had to wait between 12 and 54 minutes for an ambulance to be assigned because none were available.
The national target is for ambulance arrival on scene within 10 minutes of an emergency medical call being lodged.
It follows a recently released Productivity Commission report that found average NSW ambulance response times were the worst in the country bar Tasmania, as well as the most underfunded.
Unlike other states who regularly publish data for average ambulance response times on a local government and regional level, ambulance response times for NSW are only available on an average state-wide level.
The following questions were put to the Health Minister on Wednesday:
- Why aren't the average NSW ambulance response times publicly available on a level lower than state (i.e regions, LGAs, or individual stations)? Keeping in mind other states, like Victoria, publish quarterly ambulance response time figures for every LGA in a bid to be transparent and accountable?
- What does the Minister say to comments the figures aren't available because they would demonstrate the extent of under resourcing in the NSW Ambulance service?
- What does the Minister say to comments the response times (below state average level) are not publicly available because there is a lack of transparency and accountability by NSW Health for the resourcing and performance of its Ambulance Service?
- The Northern Star was given several examples of response times for the Lismore area during April, including one example where it took 54 minutes for an ambulance to be assigned to an urgent 'lights and sirens' case because there were none available. This was just one of five examples from a two week period in Lismore in April where ambulances took well over the national target of arrival on scene in 10 minutes, because no crews were available to be assigned to jobs. Does the Minister believe this sort of information is not in the public interest?
- Will the average response times of ambulances on a regional, LGA or station level ever be made publicly available, and if so, when?
The following response, published in full, was received.
"The NSW Government will consider publishing regular detailed NSW Ambulance performance data.
As you know, this is already done with hospital performance data through the Bureau of Health Information."