Ambos to be reviewed

HEALTH Minister Jillian Skinner has asked for an independent review of ambulance response times in Northern NSW, after a succession of frustrated paramedics who bravely spoke out against a new overtime policy that was having fatal consequences.

Ms Skinner said the issue surrounding prolonged response times in the area was a concern.

She said: "If current protocols are found to be wanting, they will be changed because the best model of care available must be the model we use."

The review was announced earlier this year but in light of the blown out response times and criticised management of ambulance resources in recent months, these incidents will also be looked at.

A South Grafton man died of a cardiac arrest last month when an ambulance crew was called to the scene from Maclean rather than off-duty officers in Grafton. In August, a man had a cardiac arrest on a footpath in Murwillumbah and died after he had to wait 27 minutes for an ambulance crew because the town's designated ambulance was sent to do a hospital transfer.

Ms Skinner said the review would also look at despatch models for aero medical retrieval services and new on-duty guidelines.

This follows a serious car crash on the Pacific Highway at Tabbimobile last month where a paramedic's request for a helicopter to the seven-patient crash was denied twice. One paramedic was forced to put two child patients on one stretcher and another paramedic was forced to sit a patient with facial injuries sitting upright in the front seat.

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