No timetable for paid ambos as areas assessed

Warren HatelyBusselton Dunsborough Times
St John Ambulance volunteer Emily Saleh
Camera IconSt John Ambulance volunteer Emily Saleh

A plan to roll out more paid St John Ambulance paramedics to lighten the load on volunteers in the Capes region looks to be on hold for now.

Last month, the Times reported the ranks of long-serving ambulance volunteers could be bolstered by more paid officers to meet population growth and increased tourism pressure on the region.

The WA Health Department announced the first round of paid personnel funding last month, with $9.2 million allocated to the Kimberley. A spokesman for Health Minister Roger Cook said the funding was a “phase-one announcement” but referred questions about the WA Government’s focus on supporting Capes volunteers to the WA Country Health Service.

A WACHS spokeswoman was unable to provide a firm timetable on the paid personnel roll-out.

St John head of country ambulance operations Justin Fonte told the Times “additional resources will be announced in due course”.

“St John, in partnership with the WA Country Health Service, are currently assessing regional WA locations to receive additional paid personnel,” he said.

“One of the most important outcomes we are seeking for placement of additional resources is to ensure that clinical volunteers continue to receive support in their highly valued service to the community.”

The WACHS spokeswoman said the Kimberley was prioritised because it had many vulnerable remote communities a large distance from hospitals.

Margaret River Hospital was “well above the State average” at 95 per cent under the WA Emergency Access Target scheme, WACHS said.

“We’ve worked closely with the State Government to deliver WA’s first long-term strategy to strengthen country ambulance services,” the spokeswoman said.

The new country ambulance strategy included a three-month consultation phase and 120 community workshops, with almost 1000 submissions received.

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