Napthine keeps ambulance response times hidden

The Napthine Government has gagged Ambulance Victoria from publishing figures on a website that would show ambulance response times and provide the community with up-to-date information about how bad the crisis in the ambulance system has become, Member for Monbulk James Merlino said today.

The Opposition today asked the Premier in Question Time about the website, which was designed and developed by Ambulance Victoria and ready to go online last year.

“Labor today put it to Mr Napthine that not only is he ignoring the crisis in the ambulance system, but now he is keeping the public in the dark about how bad the ambulance crisis really is,” Mr Merlino said.

“The only way the public can find out whether response times have blown out across the state is through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.”

The information contained in the Ambulance Victoria board meeting minutes, obtained under FOI by the Opposition, reveal that the Health Minister was briefed about the website in the middle of 2012, but it has gone nowhere since.

Mr Merlino said Denis Napthine and Health Minister David Davis had gone out of their way to prevent this data from seeing the light of day because they don’t want to acknowledge the ambulance crisis.

“When asked about this issue in Parliament, Mr Napthine refused to answer why Victorians were being kept in the dark,” Mr Merlino said.

“If Mr Napthine was so proud of how his government was administeringVictoria’s ambulance service, he would simply press the button and get this information online.”

The most recent ambulance response time figures made available to the Opposition under FOI, show that for each and every ambulance station across metropolitan Melbourne response times have worsened under this government.

And for regional areas the last set of figures made publicly available by the Opposition, show that just one in four branches in regional and rural Victoria achieved the state-wide benchmark for life-threatening call-outs in the second half of 2012.

Mr Merlino said the failure to publish the website came on top of Ambulance Victoria board meeting minutes that show the Napthine Government has been made well aware that the system was struggling to cope, but has failed to act.

“Mr Napthine and Mr Davis are determined to ignore this problem, but it won’t go away,” Mr Merlino said.

“For weeks now, the Labor Opposition has continued to ask the Premier about problems that have left people waiting in pain for too long and about communities without an ambulance on duty.

“Now we know that the Napthine Government was well aware of this, with Mr Davis being briefed on the issue as early as August 2012 – nearly one year ago.

“And, it seems, neither Mr Napthine nor Mr Davis have done a thing to remedy the situation, except to stop the public from finding out about it.”