Ms VAGHELA (Western Metropolitan) (14:44:05): My question is for the Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services. Could the minister please detail how the government’s investment in Victoria’s health system is improving ambulance response times?
Ms MIKAKOS (Northern Metropolitan—Minister for Health, Minister for Ambulance Services): Can I thank the member for her question, and I apologise for the fact that I have actually got my back to her. But I want to thank her for her interest as a newly elected member representing the western suburbs and congratulate her again on her election. I know that she is going to do a great job in joining Mr Melhem and others in the western suburbs in representing the interests of people in the west. I am pleased to inform her and the house that the Andrews Labor government have delivered on our promise to recruit 450 new paramedics to boost care and to save lives in Victoria. Just last week I had the pleasure of meeting 20 of our new recruits. They are the last tranche of the 450, who will begin their shifts in March. They were undertaking some of their last training. They are part of a $500 million investment in our ambulance services to improve our ambulance response times, the largest ever investment that we have made in Victoria’s ambulance system. I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the new recruits again, because I believe that there is no greater calling than working to save lives, working to support your fellow Victorians in our health system, whether it is as a paramedic or as a nurse or allied health professional or as a doctor. All those people who work in our health system every single day do amazing work, and I take this opportunity to thank them and to wish them well. This investment is helping to rebuild Victoria’s ambulance system. We had the previous coalition government that went to war with our paramedics. They might want to forget this history, but I can tell you that the paramedics have not forgotten it—they certainly have not forgotten it. We had under the previous government a deterioration, led by Mr Davis, who is now the Leader of the Opposition in the upper house, to a record low of 73 per cent, the worst on the Australian mainland. That is what the Liberals’ legacy is—it is always to slash and burn—whereas we have turned this around. Just the latest data shows that our paramedics are in fact responding to emergencies faster than ever before. Our latest data shows that we have now reached 83.9 per cent of code 1 patients—that is, our most critical, urgent matters—being responded to within 15 minutes, an improvement of 2.5 percentage points on the same quarter a year earlier. This is the best ever response rate in Ambulance Victoria’s history, something that members on this side can be immensely proud of. This is despite a record number of code 1 emergencies paramedics responded to during that quarter. They are helping more people than ever before, but they are doing it more quickly than ever before, particularly in relation to those urgent matters. The average response times to code 1 cases has also improved, with ambulances arriving on the scene 11 minutes and 12 seconds after call-out—31 seconds faster than for the same time last year.
Unlike those opposite, we do value our paramedics and we invest in them to make sure that Victorians can feel safe and get the support that they need. We have also committed a further $109 million. At the last election we committed $109 million to support the life-saving work of paramedics and to make sure that we can invest in an extra 90 new paramedics, building on those 1000 new paramedics rolled out across the state over the past four years. We are delivering $25 million to upgrade and build new ambulance stations and deliver 23 new vehicles on the road. This will include many high-demand locations in East Bentleigh, Clyde North, Ocean Grove and Gisborne. I look forward to updating the house from time to time about this continued work and the results of this particular investment. But I can assure the member that more paramedics on our road means— (Time expired)