Women who are haemorrhaging blood after a sexual assault, have suffered a second trimester miscarriage or have given birth suddenly outside of a hospital will no longer receive category 1 priority emergency responses from the NSW Ambulance Service.

Now, those victims will only receive a 2I “potentially serious” ambulance when one is available, and that ambulance won’t be required to drive with emergency sirens or lights.

Others who won’t receive a 1C priority response include some gunshot victims, those seriously injured in suicide attempts and people haemorrhaging from other serious assaults.

Even multiple victims of a nuclear, chemical or biological incident will now only be classified as 2I “potentially serious”.

The NSW Ambulance Service keeps no performance data on how long it takes to reach these patients, and cases no longer contribute to assessments of response times.

Paramedics have reported that patients are regularly waiting half an hour or more as ambulances struggle to deal with the most serious cases, with up to 20 or 30 cases at a time waiting where no vehicle was available.

 The latest revelation follows a number of major recent disruptions involving the NSW Ambulance Service, including:

  • An 83-year-old woman who waited more than three hours for assistance in Sydney;
  • Ambulances waiting 13 deep at Liverpool hospital;
  • 11 ambulances deep queue at Wyong and Gosford hospitals;
  • St George Hospital placed on by-pass due to bed block;
  • A 43-minute delay for a two year old from Bobs Farm near Newcastle on May 9 – almost four times the acceptable time limit;
  • The July 9 death of a 70-year-old Hurstville man following a 31-minute delay in responding to the emergency;
  • The July 21 resignation of the Ambulance Service CEO Ray Creen – who has been head of the service for only two years to return to South Australia; and
  • Widespread “bed block” in Sydney and Central West hospitals – where ambulances were lined up in emergency departments to dispatch patients.

 Quotes attributable to NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley

“Another day and yet another example of an ambulance service in crisis thanks to the Baird Government’s callous mismanagement.”

“Our paramedics do an outstanding job under incredibly tough circumstances – but it’s clear that this Government isn’t giving them the resources they need to help the community.”

The Baird Government must acknowledge the evidence of bed block and lengthy queues of ambulances in emergency departments are affecting patient safety.”

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Jodie Harrison

“People who are calling for ambulances are clearly in need of help – making them wait longer puts patient safety at risk.”

“It is mortifying to think that victims who have already suffered severe trauma would be told their cases aren’t a priority and then be made to wait even longer.”

“It’s unacceptable for the Baird Government to claim to be tackling violence against women while at the same time deprioritising emergency responses to victims of serious sexual assaults.”