AN AMBULANCE referral system will be rolled out in the Wimmera next month in a bid to reduce trivial ambulance call-outs.
The RefComm system has been in place for more than a decade in Melbourne and has been tested in the Barwon-South Western region.
The system establishes the severity of a patient’s condition and refers them to the appropriate level of care.
Health Minister David Davis said the extension of the referral system to the Grampians region would improve the efficiency of ambulance services.
“Ambulances will be sent to patients with life-threatening conditions – that has not and will not change,” he said.
“But many people request an ambulance for conditions that are not serious or life-threatening, from toothache to head colds.
“They will be referred to alternative options that better match their health needs, including transport by a non-emergency ambulance or attendance by locum doctor or nursing service.”
"Many people request an ambulance for conditions that are not serious or life-threatening, from toothache to head colds.''
The Grampians region stretches from outer north-west Melbourne to the South Australian border, taking in the Wimmera.
Ambulance Victoria Grampians group manager Nick Thresher said the April roll-out was on track across the Grampians region.
“We know that the expansion of the service will assist in us being able to reach those patients who really need our skilled paramedics,” he said.
“It is about making sure, as much as possible, that Grampians ambulances are more available to respond to the most urgent cases.’’
Mr Thresher said the system was about using paramedics and nurses’ training to work with callers to decide what treatment would be best.
“It deals with 000 calls, where the patient’s condition indicates that an emergency ambulance might not be required,” he said.
“Paramedics and nurses trained in telephone triage can connect them with an alternative service, such as sending a contracted nursing service or a locum, which might be more suitable.”
Mr Davis said statistics had shown many cases could be resolved without an emergency ambulance.
“About 70 per cent of calls managed by RefComm in 2012 and 2013 did not require an emergency ambulance to be dispatched, with patients instead referred to a more appropriate local health service,” he said.
“RefComm prevents unnecessary ambulance call-outs, meaning more ambulances and paramedics are available for emergencies.”