Record May ambulance ramping figures raise concern about upcoming winter peak

WA has recorded its worst start to winter in ambulance ramping on record with St John’s Ambulance reporting more than 5130 hours in May.
The May figure is the equivalent to one ambulance being ramped for 213 days in a month and includes 107 hours of ramping outside country hospitals across the State.
“This is our worst start to winter on record and is obviously very concerning ahead of what is predicted to be a severe flu season,” Shadow Health Minister Libby Mettam said.
“After running down our health system in their first term of office, it is inexcusable to see this chronic level of ambulance ramping continuing.
“The May figure has increased dramatically from May 2021 (3834 hours) and is more than five times the number of hours recorded in May 2020 (1011 hours).
“So far this year, ambulances have spent more than 24,000 hours ramped outside our hospitals, which is the equivalent of 1000 days and is already more than the 2019 yearly figure.”
Ms Mettam said while she welcomed recent budget measures to address the bed block and capacity issues in ED that are undoubtedly causing the blow-out in ramping figures, she questioned when they would likely have an impact.
“When announcing the so-called emergency reform package, the Health Minister said she did not expect to see any great improvement in ramping in the coming months which begs the question – where is the urgency to try and address this critical issue?” Ms Mettam said.
“This is a dire situation which is undoubtedly impacting the whole health system and putting lives at risk but there does not appear to be any urgency or prioritisation from this government to fix it.
“Instead we have a taskforce and funds for a business plan but no tangible plan for when we will actually see a reduction in these figures.”
Ms Mettam said the issue was now impacting other emergency services with firefighters being seconded to drive ambulances and reports that police are also spending considerable time waiting in EDs with prisoners or suspected criminals who require medical attention.
“It’s extraordinary to hear the Premier boasting about a $5.7bn surplus at a time when the lack of investment in our health system over a number of years is resulting in such dire consequences.”
Annual WA ambulance ramping figures:
2021 – 52,435
2020 – 25,902
2019 – 24,438
2018 – 15,437