Sick patients in regional Victoria are being forced to pay secret charges when ambulances are forced to ‘ramp up’ outside country hospitals, Labor’s Parliamentary Secretary, Wade Noonan, said today.

Mr Noonan revealed that Ambulance Victoria is charging $12-per-minute for patients who are forced to wait on ambulance stretchers because emergency departments in regional hospitals were at capacity.

“Critically ill patients are being slugged hundreds of dollars for the privilege of lying on an ambulance stretcher inside an emergency department, because many of our regional and rural hospitals simply don’t have a bed for them,” Mr Noonan said.

“Ambulance ramping across many regional centres, including Bendigo, Ballarat, Geelong, Shepparton, and Gippsland has increased substantially due to Mr Napthine’s cuts to health.

“Mr Napthine shouldn’t be punishing regional Victorians for a situation he has created, but refuses to fix. This secret ramping charge is just rubbing insult into injury for people living in country Victoria.

“Many patients would have no idea that they are being slugged this secret ramping charge because it’s not listed on Ambulance Victoria’s invoices.”

Mr Noonan said the Napthine Government must come clean on how many people had been charged while waiting in ramped ambulances and how much money was fleeced from them.

“Health Minister David Davis needs to outline how much money he has taken from people in these circumstances and the number of instances in which it has occurred,” he said.

“The Government should show when regional ambulance patients are being charged for transport and when they are being charged because the hospital system can’t receive them.

“Denis Napthine must explain why he thinks it’s fair to leave ‘the meter running’ when ambulances arrive at country hospitals, particularly given that patients living in Melbourne are not slugged these secret charges.

“It seems the more things change, the more they stay the same – once again, a Liberal National Government is treating regional Victorians like the ‘toenails’ of the State.”

Fee structure – Rural Patients
Emergency ambulance attendance and transport Non-emergency ambulance attendance and Transport
Flagfall $986.74 Flagfall $154.75
Time per minute $11.95 Time per minute $1.56
Distance per kilometre $1.16 Distance per kilometre $0.72
Attend no transport $287.54 Attend no transport n/a



Published on September 17, 2013