EMERGENCY medical services in regional Western Australia are to be strengthened with the appointment of 39 paramedics, as part of a response to the review of operations at St John Ambulance.
Health Minister Kim Hames said emergency ambulance services in regional areas would also benefit from a dedicated communications officer assigned to co-ordinate emergency calls from regional areas.
“Ambulances in regional areas were a strong focus of the ‘St John Ambulance Inquiry - implementation of recommendations completion report’ that I am releasing today,” Dr Hames said.
“This report signals the end of a long journey to rebuild public confidence in WA’s ambulance service, particularly in regional areas.”
To date, community paramedics had started work in Karratha, Newman and Kununurra.
An additional nine are being recruited for Katanning, Manjimup, Esperance, Carnarvon, Wickham, Karratha, Wyndham, Merredin and Narrogin, with two to be located in Broome.
“Since 2009, the State Government has been working closely with St John Ambulance to boost funding, add resources, rebuild staff morale and ultimately improve services to patients in need of emergency care throughout WA,” the Minister said.
“All 13 recommendations made in the initial independent review have been addressed, helped by a special Country Services working group established to oversee the implementation of the recommendations.”
Dr Hames said 21 career paramedics would be recruited by St John Ambulance over the next three years to improve front line emergency services in regional centres thanks to the partnership between the State Government, St John Ambulance and Pilbara industries.
The Minister said 18 community paramedics would also be employed to recruit, retain, train and support St John Ambulance volunteers in priority regional locations.
Dr Hames said the paramedics would be recruited progressively over the next three years as part of a $146million plan to enhance and improve response times and patient care.
“The 21 career paramedics will be employed in the South-West, Goldfields, Kimberley, Pilbara, Mid-West, Great Southern and the Wheatbelt over the next four years,” he said.
“St John Ambulance will recruit 18 community paramedics - 10 in the first year - and four each year subsequently and they will be employed in priority locations determined by the WA Country Health Service in consultation with St John Ambulance.
“This will bring the number of additional funded paramedics in the Pilbara to five, thanks to the $38.2million Pilbara Health Initiative. This is a three-year partnership between the State Government’s Royalties for Regions program and major Pilbara industries.
“The community paramedics will be based on a successful pilot which was run in Newman and Kununurra for about two years where a paramedic has been supporting local volunteers through recruitment, training and mentoring.
“The role goes beyond the core business of transporting sick and injured people.
“They will complement the role of the volunteers who are the backbone of the country ambulance service in WA.”