Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 14 February 2018) . . Page.. 138 ..
Other ACT ambulance statistics are also impressive, including the quality of the service as perceived by the patient—that is, patient satisfaction. This is a figure at around 97 per cent, and for any industry that is an extraordinary level of satisfaction. Particularly in a modern age when people are very willing to express their dissatisfaction, that that reflects very well on the Ambulance Service and their dedication to serving the needs of Canberrans.
As has been discussed today, the government has also committed significant additional resources to ambulance services. These are listed in the budget review which was made public yesterday—funding of over $10 million. The resources will fund the recruitment of 20 new paramedics and a new mechanic, in addition to the recruitment of 11 paramedics already underway.
The issue is obviously more nuanced than Mrs Jones has presented in her remarks. As the answer to her question without notice points out, ACTAS uses a deployment matrix to guide and inform the best placement of its resources at any one time. ACTAS also goes through periods of high demand and low demand. One can imagine for example, that 4 am on a weekday is regularly less busy than, say, weekend periods. It makes sense to me that there would be flexibility in the use of resources, acknowledging that there are periods of low demand. Resources, of course, should always be used as efficiently as possible. As Miss Burch said in her dissertation yesterday, we do not want to waste government resources, after all.
It seems to me that Mrs Jones is really just using hyperbole in an attempt to stir up fear about the Ambulance Service as a way to try to maximise her perceived political interest. I would probably be supportive of a motion that was reasonable and honest about the situation, something that identified the issue of an unmet metric and asked that it be addressed: how is the government going to improve or review it, or is the metric itself somehow not an appropriate measure? That is essentially what the amendment presented by Minister Gentleman does—it acknowledges the issue of minimum crewing, which Mrs Jones has accurately identified in her motion, but it provides a fuller context of the situation in the ACT Ambulance Service.
The amendment also calls on the government to review the crewing level requirement. I think that is an appropriate way forward and a good outcome. As the minister pointed out in his answer to Mrs Jones’s question on notice, the staffing measurement originates in historical and predictive data analysis and reporting. It may not be a pertinent measure of performance. I am interested in seeing the further analysis that the government presents following its review.
I should add that I expect this will be a genuine review of whether this staffing metric is actually appropriate and whether it makes sense. If it remains a relevant metric, I expect the review will determine what changes are needed to ensure it is properly met. That is not a question I know the answer to; it will be assessed by people in the ACT Ambulance Service with expertise and experience in this area.
In the context of this review I would like to see the government also look at this issue through a lens of health and wellbeing—that is, I think that they should consider