Triple 000 delay claim

Sanjay Prag with patient transfer customer Anna van de Nes.
Sanjay Prag with patient transfer customer Anna van de Nes.

Mr Prag said he was often called to non-emergency patient transfers, forcing his emergency ambulance to leave its designated zone and significantly increasing the time it would take another ambulance to respond to his area.

‘Most of the time when you wait longer than you should for an ambulance, it’s probably because it’s been on a patient transfer,’ Mr Prag said.

The former paramedic said suburbs on the outskirts were more vulnerable.

‘In the outskirts of the metro area you generally find one ambulance. So what would happen is if that ambulance is taken up for a non-urgent transfer from a nursing home to a hospital, it may very well be that that ambulance would be out of that area for anything from a minimum of an hour-and-a-half to up to four hours,’ he said.

‘In that time, it actually means there’s no ambulance in that area.’

Metro Ambulance general manager James Sherriff defended St John’s record and said it continually monitored ambulance and transport services in order to ensure the community had reliable services.

‘St John Ambulance’s emergency response times have met or exceeded our target times for the past financial year, and for 11 months of the previous financial year, so it is incorrect to say our patient transfers are delaying the response of emergency ambulances,’ he said.

In a report to State Parliament last July, Auditor General Colin Murphy said St John had improved its emergency response times even after demand rose, but needed to better monitor inter-hospital patient transfer.

Mr Prag said while working for St John, his ambulance was called to a low priority patient transfer and because it was a transfer, his crew waited a few minutes before attending.

On the way to the low priority call, his ambulance received an emergency call and would not have been able to attend if the ambulance had been at the low priority call, which Mr Prag said ‘literally saved that guy’s life’.

‘If we had gone to a low priority job, once we were there we would have been tied up legally to continue management of the patient,’ he said.

‘The call that came in that required an emergency ambulance five minutes later would have meant that that person would have had to wait for an ambulance for a minimum of 15 minutes at the very least and he was already in a pre-cardiac arrest rhythm.’

Mr Prag established a patient transfer business last year.

‘Since embarking on my venture, I have encountered numerous challenges, most of which are due to there being no systems in place to regulate the provision of ambulance, also patient transport services,’ he said.