The Minister strikes back
■ Mikakos responds to ambo queries, says Mansfield times are down - McLeish still unimpressed
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“The station is outdated and in desperate need of replacement,” Ms McLeish said.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.