Senior health official called in for WA’s ambulance problems

By Anna Macdonald

May 19, 2022

WA premier Mark McGowan. (AAP Image/Trevor Collens)

In the midst of battling a wave of the Omicron variant, the Western Australian Department of Health will station two senior officials at St John Ambulance headquarters.

The move follows the news over the weekend of the death of an elderly woman who waited over two hours for an ambulance.

One of the officials is deputy chief health officer Dr Tudor Codrenau, who, alongside two WA Police officers, will work with St John Ambulance to provide logistical support.

WA premier Mark McGowan called what happened on the weekend ‘unacceptable’ and requiring an immediate response.

“There is no doubt staff furlough pressures due to the pandemic can be challenging, but our ambulance service must adapt and be there for the community,” McGowan said.

He continued: “We continue to explore what other measures can be taken to ensure the incidents we have seen in recent weeks are never repeated.”

As reported in the West Australian, McGowan has also flagged the deployment of firefighters to assist in the shortage of staff.  

St John Ambulance has begun sharing information with the state government as it faces this crisis.

“We are working closely to support St John, and this multi-agency response will help them on the ground and ensure their full Business Continuity Plan is enacted,” WA health minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said. 

The state has been facing increasing pressure of late as it battles a wave of COVID cases, following its relative low numbers from its hard border with the rest of the country and world. 

As of May 18, WA reported 16,253 new cases of COVID, with the total number of active cases at 88,100. More than 95% of the population has been double vaccinated, with the state reaching 80.1% triple vaccination rates on May 6. 

Pressures on ambulance services are, grimly, nothing new during the pandemic, with members of the Australian Defence Force and State Emergency Service called to drive Victoria’s ambulances last year as the state experienced its own surge of cases, as reported in The Mandarin.  

Both Sanderson and McGowan thanked St John Ambulance for its services. 

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