St John WA inquiry ‘measures’ another exercise in deflection and diversion

The Opposition has called on the McGowan Government to accept its responsibility for the issues affecting the delivery of St John WA ambulance services in WA after today’s announcement it would implement a range of performance measures for the ambulance service.

The measures are in response to the recent parliamententary inquiry into St John WA with the government accepting almost all of the recommendations of the Labor-led committee.

“While the focus of this response is on the performance, staffing levels and culture of St John, it raises the question of what the McGowan Government is also doing to address these issues across our overstretched health system,” Shadow Health Minister Libby Mettam said.

“There remains outstanding and longstanding concerns regarding failings which lie at the feet of the McGowan Government. Ramping started seriously escalating in 2017, not long after the government was elected, and this has simply been an exercise in deflecting attention away from their failings within the hospital system.

“You cannot downplay the significance of bed block and a lack of capacity across our health system when it comes to the performance of St John, given priority response times are directly impacted by the record hours our ambulances are waiting outside of hospitals.”

Ms Mettam said the recommendation to introduce minimum response times in regional WA to ensure volunteers were always paired with a paramedic would mean a change to the scope in the St John’s regional contract and she welcomed efforts to better invest in this contract.

“Whether they can actually deliver it will remain to be seen. We know some of the paid paramedics provided for in last year’s budget are yet to be recruited so I hope this initiative also comes with appropriate incentives to be able to recruit to these areas.

“St John WA needs to step up but quite clearly the McGowan Government needs to step up as well and stop using St John as a scapegoat for all of the issues in the health system.

“The government has a poor track record of actually being able to implement and deliver on its policies so whether these measures will work, will remain to be seen. The devil will be in the detail of what the KPIs will actually be.

“What is also important to ask is; what are the key performance indicators for the Health Minister for her role in fixing the mess the McGowan Government created?”