Shepparton News

000 delays

COVID-19 CAUSES SPIKE IN EMERGENCY CALLS

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MELBOURNE: Victorians calling 000 are facing ‘‘unacceptab­le delays’’ while ambulance ramping has been seen outside a Melbourne hospital, as the state’s health system struggles to keep on top of demand.

In a video posted to social media on Monday night, dozens of ambulances can be seen waiting outside Melbourne’s Northern hospital.

The state’s ambulance union says this is happening at hospitals across Victoria.

In another incident on Monday, Victorian Ambulance Union secretary Danny Hill said people calling 000 were forced to wait up 10 minutes before their call was transferre­d to either police, fire or ambulance.

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said 000 delays were related to demand from people in COVID-19 outbreak hotspots, particular­ly those in Melbourne’s north and west.

‘‘As concern and anxiety around COVID-19 grows, we see that level of demand grow,’’ he said.

He encouraged Victorians to only call 000 ‘‘for the most urgent calls’’ in coming weeks and months, which he said would be ‘‘a hugely challengin­g period’’.

Mr Hill warned that ramping, when ambulances are forced to park outside hospitals because the emergency department is full, would only get worse as COVID-19 cases continued to climb.

Burnet Institute modelling shows Victoria could be recording between 1400 and 2900 daily cases when the Delta outbreak peaks by the end of October.

At that stage, hospitalis­ations may climb to between 1200 and 2500.

With 375 people in hospital with COVID-19 yesterday, Mr Foley said frontline healthcare staff ‘‘are working like never before’’.

He said plans were in place to supplement the state’s workforce, with parts of the health system being ‘‘deprioriti­sed’’ and partnershi­ps with the private sector being developed ‘‘to switch demand from the public sector to the private sector’’.

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