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City of Whittlesea’s rise in ambulance wait times explained in four graphs

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Grace Frost
Grace Frost
Hi, I'm Grace. Im a passionate story writer and I love all things digital!

By Grace Frost

The latest Ambulance Victoria data shows City of Whittlesea residents have this year faced the longest ambulance wait times recorded in their municipality in five years.

Residents waited on average 16.26 minutes for an ambulance in urgent, code-one situations between April and July this year, compared to 11.59 minutes in 2017.

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Ambulance Victoria aim to arrive at the scene of a code one call within 15 minutes, with response times measured from the time of the triple zero call to the first ambulance arriving on scene. 

The increase continues the spike in wait times evident across the state since the onset of the pandemic.

Calls for urgent paramedic and hospital care with a lights and siren response, code one calls, have significantly increased in Victoria since the April 2019-2020 quarter, jumping from 65,731 to 97,509 in the same period of 2022-23.

But Victorians in the north-central region – City of Whittlesea, Mitchell and Macedon Ranges Shires – have waited for ambulances longer than the average Victorian years before the pandemic began. 

Data shows that 66.7 per cent of calls were responded to within 15 minutes in the region between April 1 to June 30, 2017, compared with 81 per cent Victoria-wide.

That number decreased to 55 per cent in April 1 to June 30 this year.

In the City of Whittlesea, code one responses totalled 3457 in the last quarter, compared to 2698 in Melbourne. 

The demand for emergency care in the region is further highlighted by the pressure on the Northern Health’s emergency department.

Northern Health recorded 19,417 emergency department presentations in the 2021-22 financial year, about 4000 more than Western Health and about 7600 more than Melbourne Health.

The last quarter was Ambulance Victoria’s third busiest on record, Ambulance Victoria Hume regional director Narelle Capp confirmed.

Ambulance responses increased by 5.5 per cent compared to the previous quarter.

“Every winter we see demand rise, and this year is still challenging as COVID-19 and influenza spreads, and more staff are furloughed due to illness,” Ms Capp said.

Ambulance Victoria has recruited 118 new graduate paramedics across the state in the past month to help respond to increasing demand.

Wait times in the Mitchell and Macedon shires showed signs of improvement in the last quarter, dropping for the first time since the onset of the pandemic by 1.23 seconds and 49 seconds, respectively.

It was not the case for the City of Whittlesea, where wait times have continued to slow for the fourth consecutive year. 

Mitchell Shire continues to have the overall slowest ambulance response times in the region.

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