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Question Time - Dee Why Ambulance Station

Mr MICHAEL REGAN: That is good to see. My question is directed to the Minister for Health. In March this year the previous Government committed to building a new ambulance station in Dee Why and other areas across the State. When will this new station be delivered? Will the Narrabeen station be retained? Will staff for the new station be added to the planned ambulance roster levels so the people of the northern beaches and across the State receive a genuine increase in frontline healthcare capacity?

Mr RYAN PARK (Keira—Minister for Health, Minister for Regional Health, and Minister for the Illawarra and the South Coast) (11:33): That is a good question. The member for Wakehurst is a terrific advocate, whom I have met with already. He has written to me about youth mental health beds on the northern beaches, the national dementia plan and other important services in his community. I thank him for his advocacy on behalf of the community that he represents.

Frontline emergency care for residents on the northern beaches will receive a major boost with a new ambulance station set to be built near Dee Why. The new station will feature internal parking for ambulance vehicles, vehicle wash facilities, multipurpose spaces to support staff education and logistics, and storage and office administration areas as well as staff amenities. I was recently with the member for Coffs Harbour to look at a new ambulance station built in his electorate with up-to-date facilities that reflect the importance of making sure that our paramedics have a professional workspace that meets their needs.

The exact location for the new ambulance station at Dee Why will be determined once further planning is completed, which includes working with stakeholders to identify a suitable site. All sites being considered undergo a thorough evaluation through Health Infrastructure and the ambulance service to ensure that they meet the needs of the community and emergency staff. We need to take into consideration the traffic movements in particular areas, including the egress et cetera. We also need to consider how a station would work with the rest of the precinct given it is to be used for emergency response. Construction times will also be confirmed once the land search and site acquisition process is finalised.

I again acknowledge the member's ongoing commitment to seeing better health outcomes for his community. Members on this side of the House feel very strongly about that. Every three months, data from the Bureau of Health Information comes out. It has shown significant changes in ambulance responses, movements and demand for ambulances, the likes of which we have not seen for a long time. The rate for Dee Why has increased by about 6 per cent in 12 months. That may not sound like a lot, but it is a substantial increase in the number of people needing ambulances. Many of those are not for category 4 or category 5 incidents, which are minor issues. They are often P1 or P2 category cases and very high-level responses are needed. People should not fall into the trap of thinking that a whole lot of people are just calling for an ambulance but do not need one. That is often not the case. [Extension of time]

Notwithstanding this, performance of local ambulance services remains strong, with a 2.2 per cent increase in the call to ambulance arrival time for P1 patients within 15 minutes. It means more ambulances are getting there faster. It is only a small improvement; we have to be realistic. I am not going to say that is the end of it. It is a small improvement, and we need to do more. Some 92.1 per cent of P1 cases were responded to within 30 minutes, which was pleasing when I saw the dataset. That is important, because those are critical life-and-death situations.

The current Narrabeen Ambulance Station building is aged. It was constructed in the early sixties and does not meet current standards for an ambulance station. I am happy to meet with the member in the future to work through what we are going to do with that asset. The new ambulance station at Dee Why will ensure the community has improved access to emergency care when and where they need it most. The new ambulance station will boost local health services and bring more jobs to the local area. It will also provide a better working environment for paramedics, who are doing their utmost to serve our community. I sincerely thank the member for his question and his ongoing advocacy. He has made it clear that healthcare services in the north are important to him. He has written to me on a number of issues, and I look forward to continuing to engage with him on improving services in his local community.

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