Western Australia has recorded its highest number of new COVID-19 cases as the fallout from troubles affecting St John Ambulance continues. A report states that alternatives should be considered if the service does not improve within five years.

Another six people have died from the virus in a day when a record 17,105 coronavirus infections were reported in the state.

WA now has 88,781 active cases while 300 people are hospitalized with the virus, down from 327 with 10 in intensive care.

The previous high in daily cases for WA was 17,033, set on Wednesday last week.

“Significant burden” for the rescue service

Amidst COVID-related staffing shortages in the health system and at St John Ambulance, a report by the Parliamentary Committee on the provision of emergency services in WA has been submitted to Parliament.

A long line of ambulances.
The report states that new key performance indicators should be developed for St. John Ambulance.(ABC News: Jessica Warriner)

The report, including its 74 findings and 48 recommendations, was presented by House of Lords whip and chairman of the Public Administration Committee, Pierre Yang, who subsequently issued a statement.

The committee had made a number of recommendations to address the fact that St. John was unable to meet its contractual target response times for emergency calls in fiscal 2020-2021.

Mr Yang said the government should review implementation of the recommendations within the next five years and consider alternative rescue service providers or a government service if service delivery doesn’t improve.

The recommendations included:

  • That new indicators for the rescue service are developed and regularly reported to Parliament
  • The government is investigating whether having health ministry workers answer 000 calls would improve treatment outcomes
  • A system needs to be developed to provide information about patient outcomes to St. John
  • Ambulance availability must be made publicly available online, as is the case in Queensland
  • Operating hours of non-emergency patient transfer services will be extended to 24 hours a day to avoid tying up emergency resources by performing non-emergency transfers between 1am and 6am
  • That ambulance response times are recorded from the moment a 000 call comes in, and not when the ambulance is dispatched
  • Conducted employee culture surveys and reassessed the organizational structure of St. John to address a perceived lack of employee trust in management
  • That Aboriginal communities who do not have access to an ambulance will be identified and the adequacy of existing services will be examined, as communities, including WA’s largest remote Aboriginal community, Bidyadanga, do not have guaranteed access to ambulances.

Report delivery comes as COVID holiday and record levels of ambulances ramping up plague WA Health and St John Ambulance.

An investigation into the death of a woman who waited two hours for an ambulance on Sunday morning is also continuing, in a scenario the government has ruled “unacceptable”.

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