Legislative Council Thursday 21 March, 2019
Ms FORREST QUESTION to LEADER of the GOVERNMENT in the LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL, Mrs HISCUTT
With regard to Ambulance Tasmania staffing levels and procedures in the Burnie and Wynyard regions -
(1) What is the average time taken for an ambulance to attend a 000 callout in Burnie, Waratah, Wynyard and Circular Head municipal areas in each region?
(2) What are the current shift times? Please provide a breakdown of this data down to identifying wait times across each shift period. Please try to break down this data to identify weekdays as opposed to weekends.
(3) What is the staffing profile of operational ambulance officers by shift, including during weekdays and weekends?
(4) What current arrangements are in place in addition to the rostered shifts? How do these arrangements work?
(5) What volunteer ambulance officers are engaged in supporting or are required to support ambulance officers/paramedics in these regions?
(6) Are single ambulance officers required to attend callouts as first responders? If so, when does this occur? How many times in the last 18 months, broken down by region, has this occurred?
(7) What are the levels of overtime paid in the past 18 months recorded monthly? How often have double shifts been worked over the past 18 months?
Mr President, I thank the member for Murchison for her question.
(1) The figures are provided for the 2018 calendar year and capture only emergency 000 calls, P1 and P0. In 2018, the north-west region's response time was 11.3 minutes compared to the state average of 12.7 minutes. In 2018 the north-west responses for the following areas were: Burnie, 11.79; Smithton, 16.56; and Wynyard, 10.62.
(2) The current shift times are from 0800 to 1800, the day shift, and 1800 to 0800, the night shift. The day shift emergency P1 and P0 responses are: Burnie, 11.47 minutes; Smithton, 15.25 minutes; and Wynyard, 10.02 minutes. The night shift emergency P1 and P0 response times are:
Burnie, 12.28 minutes; Smithton, 17.48 minutes; and Wynyard, 11.21 minutes. The data are provided for emergency P1 and P0 response times for weekdays, Monday to Friday, and weekends. Weekday response times are: Burnie, 11.62 minutes; Smithton, 15.61 minutes; and Wynyard, 10.32 minutes. On weekend days - Saturdays and Sundays - the response times were: Burnie, 12.23 minutes; Smithton, 18.15 minutes; and Wynyard, 11.71 minutes.
(3) The staffing profile of ambulance officers varies in qualifications and experience. The model is consistent across Tasmania and is not varied by shift, weekday or weekend day. Emergency ambulances are generally crewed with two officers who are paramedics and/or a volunteer ambulance officer - VAO. Branch station ambulances such as Wynyard and Smithton are crewed with a paramedic and a volunteer. A paramedic may be dispatched alone as the closest ambulance response when a VAO is not available. Intern - that is, training - paramedics are supervised by a fully qualified paramedic or intensive care paramedic - ICP - at all times.
(4) On-call arrangements are in place overnight for designated branch stations such as Smithton and Wynyard. The branch station officer - BSO - paramedic works a rostered day shift and this is followed by being on call overnight. BSOs work a four day-on, four-day off roster rotation. The north-west region is also supported by a rostered duty manager, who is on call after normal hours to further support any staff requirements. The Tasmanian Government has committed to providing an additional 42 paramedics in regional and remote areas of the state over this year and the next four financial years. In the 2018-19 financial year, three additional BSOs will be employed at Wynyard in response to increasing workloads. Recruitment to these positions has commenced. The new positions will transition Wynyard to a 24-hour station and will eliminate the need for on-call provisions.
(5) VAOs are extremely valuable to Ambulance Tasmania and work alongside qualified paramedics to support the local community as well as providing a first response in emergency situations. North-west branch stations that respond with VAOs are located at Wynyard, Smithton, Zeehan, Queenstown and Sheffield. There are volunteer-only stations at King Island, Strahan and Tullah, and a community emergency response team - CERT - at Port Sorell. A CERT is a vehicle rather than an ambulance response located in more remote areas where the nearest ambulance response time is impacted by geographical location, access and other factors. VAO recruitment is ongoing and induction courses for new applicants are undertaken regularly across all regions. VAOs are trained by Ambulance Tasmania and achieve qualifications at the following levels: observer, volunteer-in-training and VAO levels 1 to 4 in clinical skill sets. Level 1 and above can opt in for first-response activation. Current active branch station volunteer numbers are: Wynyard, 25; Smithton, 21; Sheffield, 25; Zeehan, 4; and Queenstown, 14. Current active volunteer-only location numbers are: King Island, 14; Strahan, 8; Tullah, 1; and Port Sorell, 7 - CERT.
(6) Suitably qualified VAOs are permitted to act as first responders in emergency cases when the branch station primary crew is not available or is on another case. In addition, ICP paramedics across Tasmania at times operate as a dedicated first intervention vehicle - FIV - providing a rapid emergency first response. Extended care paramedics - ECPs - and/or other secondary support roles are routinely dispatched as single officers. Ambulance Tasmania also maintains volunteer CERTs in several regional areas across the state, including Port Sorell and in the north-west region. These units often operate alone or with paramedic backup which is dispatched to assist. In 2018, the Port Sorell CERT responded to 289 incidents. These data are very difficult to interrogate as any single officer paramedic response to emergencies is simultaneously paged to listening volunteers and paramedic crews, and also dispatch from the nearest location. This approach ensures rapid response and limits the duration of a single officer being on scene.
(7) Overtime as a percentage of paid normal hours for the north-west region has ranged from between 7.7 per cent and 15.5 per cent of normal paid hours since July 2017.
The pay periods as a percentage of overtime to normal paid hours are -
2019-01 - 9.2 per cent
2019-02 - 8.3 per cent
2019-03 - 9.6 per cent
2019-04 - 12.3 per cent
2019-05 - 7.7 per cent
2019-06 - 12 per cent
2019-07 - 12.4 per cent
2019-08 - 9.4 per cent
2019-09 - 12.5 per cent
2019-10 - 15.5 per cent
2019-11 - 12.1 per cent
2019-12 - 11.9 per cent
2019-13 - 10.3 per cent
2019-14 - 9.5 per cent
2019-15 - 9.5 per cent
2019-16 - 11 per cent
2019-17 - 12.3 per cent
2019-18 - 11.7 per cent.
Double shifts do not occur in Ambulance Tasmania.