Minister says half hour ambulance wait 'perfect response'
NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner says a Rugby League player with a neck injury who waited half an hour for an ambulance to arrive at a Ballina sporting field received "a perfect response" from authorities.
Ms Skinner's comments earned a rebuke from her opposite number in parliament, Labor health spokesman Walt Secord. who said the ambulance service was suffering from government spending cuts.
Murwillumbah Mustangs player Nic Crompton waited 36 minutes for transport to hospital after injuring his neck in a tackle at Kingsford Smith Park on Sunday.
The delay happened despite the field being only 1km from the nearest ambulance station because of a shortage of available crews and an ambulance having to be dispatched from Byron Bay.
When questioned in parliament, Ms Skinner said the wait was nothing out of the ordinary.
"The call was correctly assessed as requiring an immediate ambulance response," she said.
"The nearest paramedic crew was dispatched at 4.43pm, which was three minutes after the call was received.
"The ambulance arrived on the scene at 5.13pm.
"A doctor was at the scene treating the patient from shortly after the incident until the paramedics arrived."
Mr Crompton was taken to Lismore Base Hospital in a stable condition and discharged later in the evening.
"I am pleased that the Ambulance Service responded exactly the way it was supposed to respond," Ms Skinner said.
"The ambulance left within three minutes of receiving the call and was on the scene as quickly as possible.
"As I said, it was a perfect response on the part of the ambulance."
Labor Shadow Minister for Health and the North Coast, Walt Secord, rejected that comment.
"In NSW, patients wait for an ambulance; they wait outside the emergency department in an ambulance; they wait inside the emergency department for treatment and then they wait for a bed," Mr Secord said in a statement.
"The ambulance service is under enormous pressure and patients with injuries are forced to wait unacceptably long periods for assistance. In an emergency, every minute counts.
"Every day, there is a new example of patients being affected by the Nationals failing to support patients.
"This is the human cost of the $3 billion in health cuts by Mike Baird."