The Min­is­ter strikes back

■ Mikakos re­sponds to ambo queries, says Mans­field times are down - McLeish still unim­pressed

Mansfield Courier - - News - By JAR­RAH LOH

THE Min­is­ter for Health Jenny Mikakos has lashed out at mem­ber for Eil­don Cindy McLeish (MLA, Eil­don) fol­low­ing the front page ar­ti­cle in last week’s Mans­field Courier.

Ms McLeish has been ral­ly­ing the State Gov­ern­ment for years re­gard­ing the qual­ity of lo­cal am­bu­lance fa­cil­i­ties, say­ing “my con­stituents are keen to know if the gov­ern­ment has plans to re­build and re­lo­cate the am­bu­lance sta­tion to be part of this pro­posed precinct”.

“The sta­tion is out­dated and in des­per­ate need of re­place­ment,” Ms McLeish said.

“It’s not re­flec­tive of a mod­ern am­bu­lance sta­tion.

“It was built in the 1970s and is no longer fit to house the 10 paramedics and five ve­hi­cles.”

Fol­low­ing the ar­ti­cle, Ms Mikakos con­tacted the Mans­field Courier say­ing “we know there’s still more work to be done clean­ing up the mess left by Cindy McLeish and her Lib­eral col­leagues when they went to war with paramedics - and re­sponse times blew out to the worst on the main­land”.

“But we (La­bor) backed our paramedics with a record $1 bil­lion in­vest­ment to boost their num­bers, up­grade and build more sta­tions and get more am­bu­lances on the road, which has seen mas­sive im­prove­ments in re­sponse times, in­clud­ing in Mans­field where am­bu­lances are ar­riv­ing more than two min­utes faster than dur­ing the am­bu­lance cri­sis left behind by the for­mer gov­ern­ment,” Ms Mikakos said.

Back in Au­gust Ms McLeish spoke in par­lia­ment, ask­ing Ms Mikakos what the plans were for the sta­tion, how­ever, de­spite par­lia­ment rules stat­ing that a re­sponse must be is­sued within 30 days, af­ter two months, Ms McLeish said there was still no an­swer.

Though well past the due date, the an­swer did even­tu­ally come in Novem­ber.

Ms McLeish said the min­is­ter wrote, “I am ad­vised my depart­ment and Am­bu­lance Victoria will con­tinue to mon­i­tor the am­bu­lance branch in Mans­field and its pri­or­ity for cap­i­tal in­vest­ment along­side other high pri­or­ity projects across the state”.

Ms McLeish was not im­pressed, say­ing the min­is­ter failed to an­swer her di­rect ques­tion on a re­build and pos­si­ble re­lo­ca­tion of the am­bu­lance sta­tion in Mans­field. “This tells us noth­ing,” she said. Lo­cal coun­cil’s pleas have also landed on deaf ears, with in­terim chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Peter Reeve say­ing that they have writ­ten sev­eral let­ters to sev­eral gov­ern­ment min­is­ters about the am­bu­lance, in­clud­ing Ms Mikakos, and Min­is­ter for Po­lice and Emer­gency Ser­vices Lisa Neville, with­out re­ceiv­ing a word back.

“We’ve writ­ten to the var­i­ous emer­gency ser­vices peo­ple and min­is­ters, but at this stage we haven’t ac­tu­ally got any re­sponse back from them,” Mr Reeve said. “We’re still just hop­ing.

“We just want to work to­gether with these agen­cies to get the right out­come for the com­mu­nity and the am­bu­lance.”

The Health and Hu­man Ser­vices of­fice says the state has de­liv­ered a record $1 bil­lion to im­prove am­bu­lance re­sponse times, em­ploy hun­dreds more paramedics, buy new ve­hi­cles and build more sta­tions across the state, and in­cludes a $299 mil­lion boost in the Vic­to­rian bud­get 2019/20 to con­tinue to grow our am­bu­lance ser­vice.

“When it comes to the lo­ca­tion of am­bu­lance sta­tions, we take our ad­vice from Am­bu­lance Victoria but we will al­ways lis­ten to lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties on the health needs of their re­gion,” Ms Mikakos said, stat­ing am­bu­lance re­sponse per­for­mance in the Mans­field Shire Coun­cil con­tin­ues to im­prove, with am­bu­lance ar­riv­ing on average in 21 min­utes and 46 sec­onds, an im­prove­ment on the 23 min­utes and 58 sec­onds dur­ing the pre­vi­ous Lib­eral Na­tion­als gov­ern­ment’s fi­nal Septem­ber quar­ter.

In ad­di­tion, 45.9 per cent of Code 1 am­bu­lances ar­rived within 15 min­utes com­pared to 33.7 per cent over the same pe­riod.

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